Mike Kueber's Blog

July 18, 2015

The laissez-faire style of parenting

Filed under: Facebook,Parenting — Mike Kueber @ 7:14 pm

Laissez faire is generally thought of as an economic system in which private parties are able to act without government interference, but the term is also more broadly defined as “a policy or attitude of letting things take their own course, without interfering.”

I grew up in a community of laissez-faire parenting.  Kids were taught that they could be anything they wanted to be, but the community neither excessively admired the overachievers nor meanly scorned the underachievers.

This week a Facebook friend showed a different style of parenting.  Jeff Webster, a former city councilman and current business executive, posted the following:

  • JW – I have been told you can hire someone to help with college applications and essays for HS Seniors. Anybody have any suggestions?

Several of Jeff’s friends provided some useful, encouraging information, but Frank Montemayor took a different tack:

  • FM – Just my opinion, but if my kid can’t do that solo, maybe college isn’t for them…. Good luck.
  • JW – There is art to applications these days. Some tips and best practices. Just like professionals getting advice. Not like when I went off to college.
  • FM – I have been told by my kids that I am a bit gruff, but I put it in their court. :); so far it’s worked….
  • JW – Using that analogy. ..I guess we should not hire tutors for school or trainers for basketball. LoL.

Several people congratulated Jeff, but no one seconded Frank’s viewpoint, so I did:

  • MK – I’m with you, Frank, but I’m a bit gruff, too. I have a son who to this day believes that he didn’t get a football scholarship because I refused to produce a highlights tape to send to college coaches, while his friend’s dad did this (as well as camps/trainers) and got a D-1 scholarship. There’s an arms race going on!

Frank and Jeff civilly exchanged a few more thoughts:

  • FM – Not the same thing in my book… An application and a couple of paragraphs…by high school, should be able to do that….again, just my opinion.  It’s not like I didn’t care…I proofread it for grammar and told her if it made sense…
  • JW – Frank…we normally agree on most things. However, there is an art to the process now…not just fill in the blanks a couple of paragraphs. To each his own. My job is to get my son in a good university. ..not worry about how others get in.

Jeff’s strategy is not really a new one.  Decades ago, I remember my ex-wife wanting to get our pre-teenager sons involved in certain activities because “it will look good on their resumes.”  I didn’t like the strategy then, and I don’t like it now.  But I don’t doubt that the Websters of the world will win some battles because of this characteristic.

Incidentally, when one of my sons was applying for a medical residency, he asked me to help him with his personal statement and I eventually did some significant editing.  Later, when he interviewed with the Mayo Clinic, they told him that they were especially impressed with his personal statement and they ultimately selected him for their Emergency Medicine residency.  And he lived happily ever after.

So I understand the Webster philosophy.  Maybe he has more energy than I did.


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