Chesed Part III: Give, or maybe don’t.

There’s this phenomenon nowadays called Helicopter Parenting. Articles appear in local magazines, and parenting magazines, about whether parents are hovering over their kids too much. I’m not really into that scene, so I don’t know all the different ways this issue manifests itself in America, compared to the fabled “good old days” when parents told their kids on Sunday at noon to go outside, play or whatever, and be back for dinner at 6pm. So I am not coming from a place of experience on this particular issue, or non-issue.

I bring it up because it reminds me of other parenting issues; namely the struggle parents have to figure out just the right level of involvement they should have in their children’s lives, from age 3 to 53.

Maybe you will be accused of being aloof, not caring. Or if you err in the other direction, you will be too controlling.

Parents who err on one end of the spectrum often run the risk of compensating by over-correcting, and erring all the way on the other side of the spectrum. While this is relevant to parenting, it is not limited to parenting. All relationships carry this risk.

So this is what is complicated about giving, about all expansion: It’s not always about you. There are other people around too. And how are you going to extend your own being without crushing the other, or making demands on another? The sense of giving has to evolve from giving of yourself to focusing on the good of the receiver.

We need to figure out how to give to another while guaranteeing the other’s sense of self, that they don’t feel they are the object to your subject. The gift to the other needs to be in harmony with the acceptance of the other’s own sense of subject-ness.

Simple and familiar examples:

  • Giving a man a fish vs. Teaching him how to fish.
  • Doing your child’s homework vs. not. (YMMV. Every child is different etc.)
  • Giving a class in which your students learn to master the material independently vs spoon-feeding all your ideas to them.

Keep in mind that the goal is still to give. And real giving, as in allowing another being to hatch and thrive is not just better than enhancing yourself; it’s a higher degree altogether.

It’s the difference between giving birth to a child vs. gaining seven pounds three ounces.

תפארת שבחסד

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