The author Sebastian Junger does not own a stroller, even though he has two young kids. When we had him on the Daily Stoic podcast recently, he explained that he doesn’t really need one—because he can carry them both, or carry one while the other walks. It makes for good exercise.
But it was also a philosophical issue for him.
Although he levies no criticism of other parents’ choices, Junger said it hit him one day that at nearly every opportunity society seeks to put distance between parents and kids. Why? So we can sell them things. If parents are told not to let their kids sleep in bed with them, then parents will need to buy them their own bed, plus a video monitor. If moms are told that nursing is deficient (as they were for many years) then they’ll have to buy formula, and bottles, and so much else. If parents don’t carry their kids, they’ll have to buy a stroller—or two! One for home and one for travel. Both are often very expensive.
There’s no need to agree with the specific parenting choices Junger is discussing to see that his larger point makes sense. The business term for this is Intermediation. Successful companies manage to insert themselves between customers and legacy brands, or insert themselves between customers and the way things have always been done. But some of the best companies of our time, practice disintermediation—they get rid of these pointless intermediaries. They foster more direct communication and connection.
That should be our strategy too as parents. Cut out the middleman where there doesn’t need to be one. Connect directly. Be there immediately, consistently.
Carry your kids if you can. You might find it’s even better than pushing them in a stroller. Not just for you, but for them too. Because they will see what you see as you walk through the world together.