A recently published book describes two approaches to raising children: The Gardener and The Carpenter. The Gardener approaches raising children by giving them just enough guidance (sunshine, good soil and water) and then letting them grow and explore throughout their developmental years. The Carpenter has a plan that must be followed with precision of the child is to turn out as desired.
The author argues that either approach has value and pitfalls. For example, maybe you don’t like the Carpenter’s approach because it’s too structured and limits possibilities, but what would you say to the child who after exploring possibilities for a dozen years decides she wants to be a world class figure skater or gymnast? Right or wrong, in today’s world it’s nearly impossible to be either of those things if starting at the age of 12. (Referring to a previous post, this is simply a fact whether we want to accept it or not.) Personally, I don’t think I could have ever made a decision for a toddler to become this or that, but theoretically, is that approach denying society something positive.
I hope I took the middle ground even though I was probably more of a Gardener. Luckily for our kids I was balanced by a Carpenter. Maybe that’s the best approach.
PS Today would have been my dads 70th birthday. He was much more of a Gardener. I still miss him.