I have a 21-year-old daughter far away at college. I love being a dad more than anything, and I don't think of myself as a helicopter parent. But when she's having trouble with a paper, she'll send it to me, and I'll mark it up for her and talk over ideas. Time to break that habit?
Dear on-the-ball Dad: Miss Rumphius exhorts us to do one thing to make the world more beautiful. It seems that you have done two: created in your daughter both a trusting relationship and a thinking writer.
You and your daughter are the ones to decide together if it’s time to break your habit. Though, is it really a habit? Or is it a step along the meandering route to independence (and I’m not just speaking about hers!)? Below are some questions for you two to think about.
Questions to silently ask yourself:
- Am I correcting only typos and grammar? [Everyone needs an editor and you are saving her valuable time]
- Am I engaging her in a genuine dialogue so that she can develop her own ideas? Or am I kinda sorta writing little bits of her paper?
- Am I helping her develop her independent mind or am I be doing this to feel needed? (There are so few other things I can do for her now!)
Questions to ask her (not all at once — maybe only one or two per paper):
- Are my edits/suggestions helpful to you; if so how?
- Am I offering too much help? Should I be encouraging you to do more of this on your own?
- If I hadn’t been available to help this time, what would you have done?
When new information emerges you two might, indeed, find that an old habit needs breaking. But not forever. She’ll probably need you for her senior thesis. Even as she grows to become an independent scholar, she’ll still need to know that her dad is willing to spring for another round of edits and conversation before she graduates.
By the way, after graduation, no matter how mature and independent she gets, she will always need you.