Thursday, April 21, 2011

An Arbor Day Analogy

Amy from Ohio wrote the following comment about this New York Times Motherlode blog post about an economist who claims that parents' choices make very little impact on their children and they should therefore just relax, enjoy the ride, and feel free to have more children. I thought Amy's comment was such a beautiful sentiment that I just had to share it. If Amy from Ohio was just copying someone else, please pass along the reference to me. I'd like to give credit where it's due.

To me, becoming a parent is like getting an unlabelled tree seedling from the Arbor Day foundation.

A parent must find the right amount of water, sunlight, and fertilizer that will help the seedling grow. They need protection from deer, and other things that will mow them down before they can stand on their own. Some seedlings stand strong and firm from the beginning; others need extra support until their roots are deep enough to stand on their own. As they get bigger, some benefit from vigorous pruning; others don't need it at all. Parents have to figure out the right combination for their seedling.

It seems to me that the economist is addressing parents who are trying to turn a redbud seedling into an apple tree. If that's your goal, then no -- nothing you do is going to make a difference. But if your goal is to bring your redbud to full blossom, then where you plant it, how you feed it, and how you prune it will have a huge impact.

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