Thursday, November 19, 2015

Preparing your children for life

If there was one phrase that I have heard a million times over the years, it is “train up a child in the way they should go.” Most times, that meant whip their tails so they don’t act a fool and get into bigger trouble than they could get out of. But now, the focus is less on disciplining and more on sheltering…less on training and more on protecting. I think the new word for it is “helicoptering.” Being a mom of three, I can understand that. That last thing I want my children to ever experience is hurt or pain.

But how realistic is that? And, as parents, are we doing more harm than good?

I was thinking about this as we were nearing Grandparents’ Day at my kids’ schools. My mom passed away last year and, honestly, she wasn’t able to attend many times before that. My dad, while a fun guy, has not always been the grandfatherly type. He will show up for the kids’ function, but there’s always a feeling of relief when he makes it. So on several occasions, I have asked family friends to fill in with my kids.  And then there were times when the kids have to go it alone. They went, sad face, some tears and made it through the day.

As happens every year, there were some parents who allowed their children to miss school rather than subject them to a day without grandparents. Now, don’t get me wrong, whenever my kids had no one to show up, I think my feelings were more hurt than theirs. But then another old school saying started playing in my head. “ If we don’t teach them, who will?

Teach them what, you ask? Teach them about life. Things won’t ever be “Even Steven.” Life won’t ever really play by the rules. Instead of allowing our children to bow out, why not take this opportunity to teach them that yes, things won’t always be fair, but you will be fine. Hang in there and, before you know it, you will be on the other side. And what better instance than Grandparent’s Day because, let’s face it, this is one of the easier lessons and environments to learn it in.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to let them get hit by a car to prove you need to look both ways before crossing the street. I am saying that the hard lessons are usually the ones that stick. Life can hand out some doozies. When your child is able to rely on his/her own strength to persevere, you will be amazed at how proud you will be. Better than that, your kiddo will be proud of himself.

We can’t always provide the shelter against disappointment, heartbreaks, and mean girls. We can, however, illustrate how to deal with life when it gives you lemons. That’s the legacy we should be thinking about. Leaving our children with a way to keep their heads up in the face of adversity.