Nature has a way of teaching lessons that we as humans would soon forget. Suicide is on the rise. Bullying accusations keep school counselors so busy, they have little time for prepping students for college and career readiness. Schools are scared of districts. Districts are scared of parents. Parents are scared of children, and children are scared of NO ONE! “They do the same thing at home,” is one of the worst things teachers want to hear on Parent-Teacher conference day. Keep reading if you want more for your child.
There is a story of a man who took interest in a certain caterpillar. He watched as it spotted the leaves of his tree and the days of spring grew warm. One particular day, he noticed the fuzzy little worm had encased itself into a cocoon. Excitement filled his heart as he knew what came next. He watched patiently everyday with anticipation. On a rare case of luck, he saw that magnificent creature struggling to make its way transformed into the world.
Being a man of good nature, he decided to help the butterfly along by snipping a larger opening into the cocoon. What happened next stunned and saddened the man. Instead of a beautiful butterfly, what emerged was a plump worm with small and shriveled wings. This creature could not fly. This creature could barely move. And there it sat helplessly on the limb of the tree with little hope for survival.
What this man did not realize is the small hole of the cocoon was intended to make the butterfly struggle. In that struggle, the fluid would be pushed from the body and into its wings. It is only through this process of struggle that the butterfly would be able to fly. By widening the hole with scissors, the man removed the struggle. What should have been a magnificent creature, was destined to suffer, or worst yet, become the prey of another animal. So, by removing the cocoons intended purpose, the good intentions of the man ultimately hurt the butterfly.
Put your scissors away
How often have you refused to let your child struggle or go without? How often have you allowed them to do something even though it was against your better judgement? In that moment, was your lapse in judgement more about your fear, or theirs? What opportunity was missed by not allowing your child to learn a valuable lesson; sacrifice, self-denial, appreciation, perseverance? Have you ever considered your child is smart enough to recognize your unwillingness to let them fail, to go without? Do you think they would use this fear against you? Year after year, I have students with terrible grades and attitudes, but have the latest and greatest in clothes and tech.
Boys grow to be men, and girls to be women. The type of men and women they become is largely based on what lesson we allow them to learn. Grit, perseverance, sacrificing for the greater good, and appreciation aren’t lessons that can be learned through coddling or giving. In our mind, the more we give, the more they should appreciate. In their mind, the more we give, especially despite their choices, the more they manipulate. When your child realizes this, game over! It is in a child’s nature to push the limits of authority in pursuit of what they want. When they discover they can use YOUR fear of THEIR disappointment to their advantage, what incentive do they have to stop, change, and grow?
See the adult you want, not just the child you have
Struggle has a way of pushing out pride. Pushing out selfishness. Pushing out thoughtless actions. Pushing out entitlement. And when you as a parent fear this struggle for your child what could end up is an adult with shriveled and unrealistic expectations. These adults have little chance for survival, especially in the world they are growing up in. And you as a parent have to do more than understand. You have to take that understanding and put it into action. You have to parent and help your child navigate the reality of struggle and disappointment.
tell us what you think?
Are we afraid to let our children fail? Are we doing more harm than good? Let us know what your think and leave your thoughts in the comments below.