My kids need to suffer…
As parents, our natural born instinct is to protect and shelter our children from pain, harm, or any negative consequences. However, to grow and thrive, they need to suffer setbacks and failures to learn, and prepare for life. So the question shouldn’t be IF we should let our kids experience negative things, but WHEN. Tenacity doesn’t just arrive on its own. As our kids get older, we need to ease the lid off the pain box and let a little out.
Am I making you uncomfortable mentioning ‘your beloved child’ and ‘suffering’ in the same sentence? Good. Then you need to hear this.
As odd and arrogant as it may sound, I choose to view my children as leaders; people that may one day change the world. Believing this, I know I need to expose them to adversity and challenges to build character, and increase their critical thinking and problem solving skills.
We cannot candy coat life and bubble-wrap our kids against all hurt and pain. We cannot helicopter over them either or be “snowplough” parents (the parent that stays out front of their kids, ploughing the path clear, constantly eliminating obstacles to ensure “pain free” success). These kids quickly learn to rely on others and never think for themselves.
If your child tries out for the high school soccer team and doesn’t make it, let it be. Let them experience the failure. Of course, there should be hugs, compassion, and consoling but let it be an opportunity to discuss their strength and weaknesses and what they can improve next time.
Do not creep the coach on Facebook, triangulate the coordinates of his home and be waiting in the shadows of his garage, with a flashlight under your chin, to ‘suggest’ that he ‘reconfigure’ his soccer line-up to include your kid!
For Luke Skywalker to become a Jedi, he needed to suffer loss, failure, and learn from his mistakes and so does your little Jedi.
If we prevent and remove opportunities for growth, then we will raise *‘unresilient’ kids (*not sure if this is a word, but whatever the opposite of resilient is – didn’t think ‘helpless wimpy sucky-baby whiner’ was appropriate).
Kids that are rescued will still wait to be rescued as adults because it’s easier. They have never had to fight through and learn from adversity.
Resiliency is not a gift to be given but a trait that is built from repeated failure.
A quick example: both my sons take break dancing lessons. At the end of each class, the kids have ‘break battles’, showcasing their sweet moves, with the crowd picking the winner. The bubble wrapped/helicopter/snowplough parent in me wanted to talk to the instructor and suggest that all kids should dance and win.
But then I snapped back to this wonderful reality, I realized the power of my boys LOSING the battle. They work harder on their moves, dig a little deeper, discover their determination, and want to win next time.
I am not advocating pain and suffering for our kids, but when the wonderful gift of failure arrives, open it carefully and look for the teachable lesson.
In the words of the prophet Chumbawamba, “I may get knocked down, but I get up again!”
Until next time…