There is an old saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” While it can be applied very literally to fishing it more likely relates to teaching people to be self-sufficient.
When I was in 2nd grade my father took us to McDonald’s to get some food and he asked, “Do you know what you want?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Ok, tell the nice lady.” I became instantly terrified. It was the first time he had insisted that I speak for myself and being barely tall enough to see over the counter I was intimidated by the process. I was fearful I would make a mistake or that she wouldn’t hear me and I would have to repeat myself. So I looked at him and tears began to form in my eyes and I said, “Why can’t I just tell you?” And he said words I would learn to live by, “Because if you don’t learn how to do things yourself then you will depend on other people your whole life.” So I collected myself and I slowly told her, “I want 4 chicken nuggets with honey and a vanilla milk shake.”
Surprisingly time didn’t stop, there wasn’t a parade and the moment passed with little to no fanfare. What I had done didn’t seemed so huge to anyone but me, I was just talking a small step. It was the first step to becoming independent.
As I got older I learn to do a lot of things myself. Maybe it was because my parents were divorced and my father didn’t want to do some of these things but he likely knew the value of my brother and I doing things ourselves. In the coming years I was doing my laundry, making my own meals and cleaning the house. Nothing amazing but they taught me the value of doing something for myself and I was not only learning a skill and becoming disciplined I was able to take some pride in doing things for myself rather than waiting for someone to do them for me.
The problem that eventually came from this was I gain so much satisfaction from doing these things that I would eventually take the same satisfaction from my Ex-wife.
She was raised in a home where her mom did just about everything and the kids were not trusted to take care of themselves. The result was different for each of her siblings, but they all developed issues in their maturity process that would affect them into their thirties.
The question is who is benefiting the most from these dependencies?
In Conversations with God it is written, “…You are no blessing to them so as long as they need you to survive, but bless them truly only in the moment they realize you are unnecessary.”
Was I dependent on her? Did I want her to depend on me? Did I prevent her from growing up? Did I not give her the skills to be her own person? Maybe. But it was within her own right to ask for these skills.
In business, managers are most effective when they train others to be the most effective at their own talent. If a manager is constantly watching over others they are not free to manage and they are teaching their subordinates that they are not trusted to take care of business without them. Is this type of manager doing so because they are controlling or because they feel like their job is justified by how much control they have over their subordinates?
A manager best manages by creating a staff of personnel that operates without constant supervision; they have trust in themselves and can work without being told what they need to do. A manager cannot be promoted without first training someone to replace them when they leave.
The same can be said of your children or an overly dependent spouse. They will never feel whole until you allow them to be whole without you. You cannot constantly fill their needs without making them more needy and one day when you are gone they will not have benefited by being solely dependent on you. So do everyone a favor. Rather than giving a person what they want teach them to do it for themselves and you will have given them a gift with it’s own reward.