Where parents do too much
for their children,
the children will not do
much for themselves.
My intention is to always protect my children because that is what my heart wants to do. I hate to see them uncomfortable, in pain, or struggling with life’s issues… and assume that it is my responsibility to cushion the intensity and take away the pain if I have the power to do that… straight up fixing the problem surely feels the best for everyone, right? Sounds pretty reasonable, no? I think so. I don’t intervene because I feel like I have to, I do it because it feels right for me to do it, it soothes the ache in my own heart for my kids. When they are happy, I feel like a better mom.
I got an email from one of my parents recently who has a daughter in my class. She briefly let me know that her child is struggling with friend issues at school and gets in the car and cries at the end of the day. It went on all of last week. My automatic reaction was to offer my help, intervene, fix it.
“Can I talk with her about it? Can I set up a very nonthreatening situation where she can talk with her girlfriends about what is going on?” I asked. I recognize that there has been a shift in the friend groups in my class and maybe it was just a matter of having them all chat? Hands down, it seemed like the best option (the only option, really).
I got a surprising response, one that made me think, made me question the quickness of my response to save my own children in any situation that brings them discomfort. (As a caveat here, I should also mention, I do know that if her child were being bullied or in danger, this parent would have let me know and the situation would have surely been handled appropriately for the circumstances.) The mom said that she did not want me to intervene at all and that this is her sixth daughter, and having been through this countless times with all of her children, she feels like changes in dynamics between friends can really be a struggle but that she also thinks that it builds character and makes her stronger.
“It is something that she will work through,” she said.
Huh? I thought.
“It is one thing
to show your child the way,
and a harder thing
to then stand out of it.”
- Robert Brault
My initial reaction was to question this mom’s response but I allowed myself to reflect on her point of view and tried to see where she might be coming from. Part of me still wanted to reach out to this sensitive, helpful, bright, empathic, respectful, and sweet child. It hurts my heart that she is experiencing this kind of pain. I decided that I needed to respect this mom’s wishes to leave it alone for now, partly because I didn’t want to disrupt the trust that they have as a mother and daughter… surely she would know that her mom shared the information with me. In any case, it really got me thinking about how I handle life’s growing pains with my own kids. Do I jump in too quickly, too forcefully, too overbearingly, in a way that might hinder them from learning a lesson in life. Robbing them of an opportunity to build character, learn to problem solve, empower themselves… am I unintentionally doing this, even just a bit?
No matter how calmly
you try to referee,
parenting will eventually
produce bizarre behavior,
and I’m not talking about the kids.
Their behavior is always normal.
Parenting is such a dynamic, complicated, and tricky balance. I was entrusted with the enormous responsibility to nurture the souls of my children, to give them the tools and foundation to find their life’s purpose. The challenge, then, is to find the delicate balance between allowing my children to learn from their life experiences while also ensuring security, love, and support along the way. Surely every single situation must be evaluated and analyzed in its own right because some instances will call for 100% intervention but for the other times, the times where my kids can feasibly learn something valuable, I might need to learn how to take a step back. There is something to be said about preparing kids for the real world, so long as it is developmentally appropriate. I will surely be spending more time thinking about how I can give unconditional support and love while I also allow my kids to learn their own lessons and make really tough decisions… regardless of how painful it might be for me to witness it. After all, I want to nurture empowered souls, not dependent ones.
How do you empower your little souls to reach their potential and support their life’s purpose?