In a recent podcast with the professor and college dean Hollis Robbins, economist Tyler Cowen made a passing mention that Hollis had raised “two successful children.” It’s a friendly expression people make all the time, but Hollis moved immediately to correct Tyler. I raised two successful adults, she said politely. It was something she had been quite clear about their entire lives—she wasn’t raising kids, she was raising adults.
What an interesting distinction. A dad who sees his kids as children sees them as they are right now and may have trouble updating this impression as they grow. A dad who sees his children as future adults sees them for their potential, sees the job of parenting as one of realization, and not simply protection.
We’ve talked before about the importance of letting your kids participate in adult conversation, of giving them space to be independent, and of teaching them how to make decisions. In a way, that seems to be Hollis Robbins’ philosophy. If you’re raising an adult, it means you need to equip them with the skills to become one. You need to cultivate their sensibilities and put them in the position to outgrow of the chrysalis of childhood. If all you’re doing is raising a child, however, you really don’t need to do anything, because they were born that way, and doing nothing different will keep them that way.
So what will your philosophy be?