And we have our children’s back
One day, a butterfly was struggling to get out of its cocoon. A woman walked by and felt sorry for the little creature. She couldn’t bear to watch it struggle, so she helped it by breaking the cocoon open. When the butterfly came out, the woman was pleased she had helped. Unfortunately, the butterfly died because it couldn’t fly. It was not strong enough because it missed the opportunity to build wing strength by breaking open the cocoon itself.
This is a powerful story for parents. In our hearts we know struggling can bring us closer to God and enrich our prayer life but teaching this to our children can be a challenge. Last year, I was working the awards section at a gymnastics meet. After each competition, parents and gymnasts came to the awards table, where top finishers received their medals.
In between sessions, one parent approached a volunteer and said, “Excuse me. My daughter didn’t get a medal. Is there someplace I can buy a medal for her?”
The meet volunteer was surprised and asked, “Didn’t she receive an all-around medal? All gymnasts are supposed to receive one. If not, I will go get one for you.”
The distraught parent replied, “Yes, she got one of those, but I want to buy her a gold medal. She worked so hard to get here and she is upset. She deserves one.”
It’s tough to watch our children struggle and miss a goal they set for themselves. But buying a medal for a child in competition robs her of the opportunity to build resiliency and tenacity, qualities she will need to handle life’s disappointments down the road. And much like the butterfly, what becomes of the child who hasn’t been given the chance to overcome setbacks?
Sheltering our children from life’s dangers is often a knee jerk reaction. But when we do this, we fail to give them the chance to learn valuable lessons through experience. Studying for a test and not getting the grade hoped for; applying for a particular college, but not getting admitted; interviewing for a job, but not being selected. These are examples of disappointments they may have to face without falling apart or giving up. It’s our job as parents to let them fail and hopefully learn something about themselves in the process. We try to live by the motto, “Success is failure turned inside out” or “Success is getting up one more time.” If we allow our children to struggle and sometimes fail, they can learn to rely on God to fortify them and prayer to keep them close to his heart. They will truly enjoy the feeling of success, of winning, if they experience the benefit of being defeated and getting back up again.