They Owe You Nothing

Yes, you’ve done a lot for your kids. You brought them into the world. You wiped their butts. Maybe you even paid for all their years of grad school. 

It can be easy for parents, after all they’ve done, to feel like they are entitled to certain things. Whether that’s respect or gratitude or influence over their children’s choices, it is this belief that sits at the root of so much conflict inside families. Mom and Dad get used to being in charge, get used to deciding how things go and think it should stay that way. Or they’re tired of having done all that and think it’s about time to sit back and be taken care of. 

Except that’s not how this works. To be clear: Your kids owe you nothing. You owe them…everything. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry says so beautifully in The Little Prince, we are responsible forever for the things we’ve tamed. The fact that you brought your kids into this world doesn’t put them in your debt. On the contrary, it means you are on the hook. For the rest of your days. 

This is what you signed up for. This is the job. Put your ego aside. Put your entitlements aside. Don’t look for the third thing, as Marcus Aurelius says, the recognition, the reparation, the return on investment. The reward is the work. The responsibility is the payoff. 

They don’t owe you anything.

P.S. This was originally sent on June 21, 2021. Sign up today for the Daily Dad’s email and get our popular 11 page eBook, “20 Things Great Dads Do Everyday.”

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