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A Manner of Speaking Sep/Oct '91

by Bonnie Neugebauer
September/October 1991
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/a-manner-of-speaking/5008139/

My daughter Amy will never be an airplane pilot. And the responsibility for that is painfully mine. At age ten she was talking about what she might like to do when she grew up, envisioning a career in the skies; and in a blundering moment of maternal protectiveness I interjected, "But, Amy, your eyes aren't good enough. You can't be a pilot."

Only days later I read a wonderful bit of parenting advice. The author (forgotten) urged parents to maintain a position of support and love in the lives of their children, leaving the burden for setting obstacles and defining harsh realities to the rest of the world. In my struggle with these impulses to spare and protect, I've come to realize that at the heart of protectiveness is the issue of control. It's an effort to shape what happens for children - our own and others in our care.

There is a fine line between interference (unnecessary control) and guidance. Obviously, there are times when we must try to control the situation; but perhaps those times occur less often than we might think. When is it best to tell a child she has climbed ...

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