Eek! I'm Turning Into My Father!

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I love my dad, he’s a great guy, in fact he’s the smartest person I personally know. The trouble is, like many brilliant people, he absolutely sucks as a teacher and quickly loses patience with people who just don’t “get it” as quickly as he does. Including me. So, when I was a kid, he always wound up doing my math homework and science projects for me. I guess he figured that somewhere along the road I’d learn. Boy, was he wrong!

So now, my husband is taking this required writing course for college. My husband isn’t a bad writer, I’ve seen worse, but he really could use some help. He never seems to make a point, and is overly fond of using a large word when a smaller word would do the job better. Tonight, he just finished a paper, and was very proud of it, but the whole time I was reading it, I was re-writing it in my head. After he went to sleep, it was all I could do to stop myself from going into Word and “fixing” it.

It drives me crazy to watch people doing things the wrong way! Of course, I suck as a teacher, and wind up doing the whole thing myself, so that it’s done right. I don’t want to be this way. In fact, I feel pretty lousy about myself. The question is: How do I stop? I need help now, before my son starts school and I wind up spending all my time making models of the solar system.

Since you recognize that doing for people means they won’t learn, maybe all you need is a mantra – call it up whenever you find yourself doing rather than teaching.

How about:

“I am crippling my child/husband”


“Want fries with that?”


“Honey, do we have any Bulwer-Lytton on the bookshelves?”

I feel your pain Tatertot. I am exactly the same way! I…I…I go crazy when people ask me to proofread their work! One resource for your husband: Get him a copy of Strunk & White’s. I’ve seen it turn crummy writers into mediocre writers and good writers into great writers! I swear by it, plus it’s only around 100 pages or so.

BTW, the actual name of the book is “The Elements of Style”, I always have heard it called Strunk and White’s though.

“Teaching without words and work without doing are understood by very few.”
-Tao Te Ching

I hear ya’. I stop myself by remembering that:
My way isn’t always the right way. There’s more then one way to skin a cat (or write a paper). If it’s school work and the error is really obvious, the teacher will let them know it’s wrong.

I always ask first before correcting: If my husband hands me a proposal that he wrote, I ask right up front “do you want me to proofread this? Or just read the content”. He lets me know either way.

Regarding other tasks (like housework, cooking, etc) I found that the less I commented/interfered, the more my husband enjoyed doing things. Even if I can clearly see that the route he’s taking is wrong, I allow him to discover it on his own, making him less likely to do it wrong again. It’s important for people to be able to do that (especially kids). Just remember that by doing it for them or constantly commenting, you’re doing them a real disservice. Just keep quiet until asked. (as hard as that is- you can do it. It’s just a habit to get into)

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We Do inherit things from our parents.My dad loves the corny joke. I find I do,too. Also,my mum has quite the sarcastic brand of humor.