Sometimes I ask my cousin for guidance on parenting. He's a good parent and full of advice. I always thinks about it and rarely follow it. I do remember asking him once about how much responsibility should I be placing on my teenage daughter. It had something to do with high school or a high school summer. What I do remember is his answer: "Wings and Roots, Baby."
"Huh?" I said.
He points me towards a famous poem that said that the two most valuable things that a parent can give to their children are wings and roots. Roots of basic values, knowing that they are loved no matter what, that they have people who will do anything for them, and all that a family can give to a child to make them feel grounded and know from whence they come.
Wings is the freedom and aspiration to move beyond their heritage. To have the courage and vision to know that they are an individual with a life that can be lived in so many ways. They should be free to soar.
This complements one of my other favorite ideas about parenting. It's the idea that the best gifts a parent can give to children are the ones that they can swim away from a shipwreck with.
Here's the poem.