You Gotta Let Them Do The Rest

George Dewey was a kid who got in trouble a lot. His father was always bailing him out. Finally, as a last ditch effort, he secured his son entrance into the U.S Naval Academy in 1854.

“George, I’ve done all I can for you,” his father told him as he dropped him off. “The rest you must do for yourself.” We talked a while back about how ​you have to let your kids fail​, you have to let them struggle. As we’ve said before Luctor Et Emergo—from the struggle they emerge (​we have a cool challenge coin as a reminder for parents​).

We can lead a horse to water, but we can’t make them drink. So it goes for our kids. We can provide opportunities, we can open doors, but the rest they’ll have to do themselves. We can’t make them take to a career. We can’t make them study. We can’t make them apply themselves.

In fact, the whole point is that ​they do this themselves​ or it’s not much good. Perhaps George Dewey’s father should have learned this lesson earlier. Perhaps you’ve been smoothing over too many troubles, turning too much of a blind eye yourself. But eventually, invariably, at some point, your kids are going to have to take over their life themselves.

​You can’t do it all​. Nor should you do it all. Nor will they appreciate it—as much as they might beg—if you try. It’s their life. Do your job, let them do theirs.


P.S. Letting our kids struggle so they can become tough and independent isn’t always easy—for us or them. That’s why one side of the Luctor et Emergo medallion features the mantra, “good, not easy,” surrounded by three other reminders we parents need each day: “let them struggle,” “show them support,” “help them grow.” To learn more about the Luctor et Emergo challenge coin and to get one to carry with you everywhere, head over to the Daily Dad Store!

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