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Economics

The Hardest Part of Parenting

The second time I took my twins ice skating was when they were six. They had enjoyed it the previous year so I figured they’d be fine after a short refresher. Julius was fine. Isabela wasn’t.

For whatever reason, Isa just couldn’t find her balance. I told her to take it slow. I held onto her. We went along the barrier. Nothing was working. I reminded her how well she skated last time and now she’s a year older and more co-ordinated. Logic sometimes works on six-year olds. Not this time!

The more I talked, the more I got frustrated and she got frustrated. The year-older argument wasn’t working on her, but it was making the continued problem incomprehensible to me. Here was my child, for whom I’ll do anything, in distress, and somehow I can’t help her. Do I yell at her? Do I make her sit and watch Julius and I until her attitude improves?

I skated away. It felt irresponsible, yet I realized no good could come from staying. So I skated away and hoped for divine intervention. As it turned out, I didn’t need the supernatural, just some 8 year olds! In the short time it took me to do a lap, a group of kids saw Isa crying and huddled around her. By my second lap, they had taken her under their wing. By the third time, it was off to the races.

Lesson Learned

There is a lesson here for parents and all authority figures. It feels irresponsible stepping away from a problem you are keenly aware of. But sometimes that’s the best solution, and giving the community, whether it be a market, or concerned citizens — or a group of 8-years — the chance to solve the problem, will result in a better solution.

An Appeal to Voters

Before you go gaga for the loudest politician shouting from the rooftops how they’re going to DO SOMETHING, consider whether the government is in a position to help. Helping requires an intimate understanding of the problem and the ability to stay impartial in the face of very self-interested lobbies. Governments often aren’t in this position. In those case, often it’s better to let the populace figure things out. Most politicians aren’t inclined to make that choice because it limits their power, and especially when egged on. So next time, as a voter please consider whether they really need egging on…or egging off!

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