Thursday, July 28, 2011

Parents as Benevolent Dictators

Benevolent dictators like to think that they are a gift of god. They have one interest, and that is to give people what they want and/or need. I guess it must really be "want" because otherwise they wouldn't be seen so "benevolent."

I heard about a parent today who gave and gave and gave. He held the purse strings, barely gave to himself, but gave generously to his children and even his ex-wife.

I remembered how when our kids were in high school (college?) we gave them a credit card and told them that this was the family money and they had to spend wisely. We were fully open with them about our finances and they were responsible to see that the family didn't overspend.

At lunch today we were talking about this and I said that the benevolent dictator gives everything but what is most valuable. One of us said "freedom." My wife said "autonomy."

Then I started thinking about the Buddhist story of the squashes who fought with each other so the monk had them meditate (a little far fetched?)... and then he told them to touch the top of their head to see where their spine starts. They did and realized they were all connected to each other.

I'm not sure how autonomy and being connected work together. Some one will have to help me with that one. Maybe it is in the meaning of the Buddhist saying "not one, not two."

In any case, if you are a parent (and we all are in some walk of our lives), try to see whether you can shift your family operation to become a democracy. Disclose your assets and let the family decide how the resources might be expended (and/or saved). Not only will this help your kids grow up, but they will have something to show their friends much cooler than the latest iphone.


Anonymous said...

I will have to think this one over for a long time. H.

Kim Mosley said...

Control only works for 11 or 12 years... then they revolt against what they see as the tyrant. I'm suggesting that maybe they are tyrants... that's all. Is adolescence necessary. What a waste of good years, at a risk to the life and limb of the teenager.

Anonymous said...

Iphones are pretty cool, you talked me into getting one! H.