My daughter sent me a text message on Monday with a photo of an incomplete Sudoku puzzle. She told me she’d gotten stumped, and she asked if I could see anything more to put in.

Photo of a Sudoku puzzle in progress.

I looked at it for a few minutes and replied that the fourth number in the first column had to be a 7 because the other open spaces in the fourth row couldn’t be.

Although this was a very simple conversation, it left me feeling much more cheerful. At first, I wasn’t sure why. She lives close enough to visit often, and she had sent several other texts over the past week, so it didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.

Then I started thinking about conversations I’d had with my parents. I generally didn’t ask for help with simple things because I felt they might judge me for not being self-reliant enough. Perhaps they weren’t overly critical by the standards of their time; but I got the distinct message that I was expected to do for myself, muddling through as best I could. Asking for a hint with a puzzle, however stumped I might have been, wouldn’t even have occurred to me.

By contrast, my daughter was perfectly comfortable about sharing her Sudoku and saying she hadn’t been able to solve it, without feeling at all self-conscious—and that was what made me smile.

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