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The "keys" to success

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I used to work at a small liberal arts college and one day while talking with some colleagues in residence life, the security phone rang. To give you a bit of context, the security phone is what students call when they have any issues that would require assistance. This one particular call came in and, apparently, this student had accidentally thrown their keys away in the dumpster and was wondering what they should do about it.

Now, I’m not trying to act like some totally self-sufficient bada$$, but if I accidentally threw my keys in the dumpster, rest assured, I’m going in after it. The amount of effort that it would take to get all new keys made for my house, my mailbox and my car??? That, for me, would be a literal nightmare, arguably, even more so than crawling into a residence hall dumpster.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I would be hard pressed leaving that dumpster until I had my keys in hand. In fact, one time at McDonalds, my Grandpa set his eyeglasses on a tray that was accidentally dumped into the trash and you know what, we went searching through the trash to find them and I'm happy to report, we did. Other than a little ketchup smear on the lenses, no harm done. My sister once searched the trash at a Chinese restaurant to find her lost retainer, although sadly, she was wasn't as fortunate.

To many, we might sound like a family of dumpster divers, but the point I’m trying to make is, we were all doing what we felt we needed to do to solve our problem.

All in all, it begs the question…..why wouldn’t they? Why would this student take the time to contact the campus security phone when they have to know that security isn’t going to get into the dumpster for them. Why is it that nowadays, it isn’t an automatic response to do it yourself. What is security going to do that they can’t?

In order to answer this question, I think that we need to consider the experience of each person as an individual. Specifically, if, in your individual experience, you've had anyone step in to solve problems for you, you become, almost trained, to assume and expect that it will happen in the future. If I’m not given the opportunity to solve problems on my own, the next best thing is for someone else to do it for me...AND...if they will, I’ll certainly let them.

I see this in my own children. I see how I haven’t given them enough of an opportunity to learn to solve their own problems, because, let’s face it, “it’s just easier if I do it.” That's the mindset that I’m becoming more and more aware of and trying desperately to improve upon. We, as parents, are doing our children a disservice by not allowing them the opportunity to solve problems for themselves, because if they don’t do it when they are young, they certainly won’t do it when they are older.

It is our job as parents to help our children find the “keys” to a successful and self-sufficient future.

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