We’re big Harry Potter fans in our house – the books, not the lousy movies. I have read them, my wife has read them and our oldest has reread them so many time I found myself involved in a ridiculous argument. It went something like: “You are rereading Harry Potter AGAIN?” “So? I want to read Harry Potter.” “This is ridiculous. You have to read something else. No more Potter!” “You can’t stop me from reading Harry Potter!” “I… You’re right. Forget it.” And I slunk the hell out of there – another parenting fiasco.

We love to read our kids the books. I read the first one to our middle son before my wife took the project over (even though my character voices are much superior). I was reminded how awesome the headmaster, Dumbledore, is. Harry, as an orphan, is looking for replacement parents throughout the books to help him grow into the man (wizard) he needs to be. Though his mother is central to his story (she sacrificed herself to allow him to live), Harry is searching primarily for a Father figure. By far the most important of these is Dumbledore.

Initially, I was amazed by Dumbledore’s willingness to permit  Harry to go on these risky adventures without interfering.  This is contrary to current hyper-involved bubble-wrapped parenting. Dumbledore knows Harry must undergo risks to BECOME the hero. He has to try and fail. Dumbledore doesn’t do Harry’s homework for him, he doesn’t micromanage or call from the sidelines about how to do things (something I am prone to).

Also, when Harry asks Dumbledore to tell him the truth, he gives a great answer:

“I shall answer your questions unless I have a very good reason not to… I shall not, of course, lie.”

He gives Harry what Harry can reasonably handle but doesn’t try and “protect” Harry from the world.

Lastly, Dumbledore regularly demonstrates the quality which makes all kids love him: a childlike curiosity and humour about life. At the end of the book, he tries one of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans – even though he had a bad experience in his youth with a vomit-flavoured one. So, like Dumbledore, I try to give my kids permission to fail. Learning to deal with failure and to keep trying those beans (even though the next one might taste like earwax) is a very important lesson.

A version of this article appears in the August/September issues of Village Living Magazine: West Village and Village Living Magazine: Mt. Pleasant.