Sometimes it feels like it would be easier if they just did what we wanted. If they could sit there for a second, as we try to handle something. If they could just pose for the photo. If they could keep the clothes we got them nice and clean. If they would play the role we hoped for, fulfill the dreams we have for them–go to the school, get the job we pick, have the wedding we plan for them in our fantasy.
As we wrote recently, there is a tendency in all parents to treat their kids, no matter their age, like dolls. That was Joan Didion’s big regret–realizing that she had been raising her daughter as if she was a precious little toy, perfect, and proper.
But of course no kid actually is that…nor would we actually want them to be. Because dolls are fragile! Dolls are lifeless! Dolls are creepy! They give nothing back. They have to be taken care of. They are nothing but what we pretend they are, they do nothing but what we make them do.
In real life, your sons and daughters eventually grow up. There will be expectations, responsibilities, the difficulties of reality. Are you still going to want to be doing everything for them? Worried that they’ll break? Projecting onto them every emotion and interest, directing their every move? No, you don’t.
We’re not raising rolls. We’re not even raising kids. As we say in the introduction of The Daily Dad, what we’re actually doing is trying to raise adults. Self-sufficient, real life, human adults.