It is no secret that parents of our generation are reluctant to place their children in stressful situations. Compared with the last generation, parents today seem less likely to place their children in learning experiences that will make them uneasy.
Do we not agree that our children have lots of pressures on them already and there is no real reason to add to that burden?
As parents, it is our natural instinct to avoid situations that make us nervous. And many of us do this for our children as well. This teaches our children that avoidance of certain situations becomes the preferred approach.
For me, one of the hardest parts of being a mother is pushing my children into situations that will help them grow and mature, without having the absolute complete confidence that they are ready. As my daughters get older, and their problems become more complex, the line between boosting confidence and feeling like you’re throwing them to the wolves becomes a little less defined.
Do you send your worrying child into a situation where you know she will need to speak up despite it being difficult for her? Do you encourage your child to admit to a wrongdoing even if the situation is already in the past? In my opinion, absolutely.
As parents, it is our job to encourage our children, expose them to new situations, and help them grow to be confident in themselves and the decisions they make. We want our children to thrive on the gratification that accomplishing goals brings, and not merely for external gratification. For instance, we want them to want to be successful because it makes them proud of themselves, and not for the sole purpose of making us proud of them.
So, is it appropriate to encourage our children to jump into situations that could be difficult for them? How do we resist our urge to rescue them and avoid sending them to ‘that place’ all together?
I find that there is no clear-cut answer to this question. And I’m not here today to suggest strategies. The only thing that is seemingly obvious is that we know our own children best. And it is our role to guide them and help promote their growth and maturity by exposing them to as many of life’s opportunities as possible.
We know that not every opportunity is going to have a successful outcome. And this needs to be OK, for all of us. And our children need to see through our reactions that this is OK. Much of what they learn comes immediately from the modeling we do for them. Is it not better to try and fail than never to try at all?
How dull would life be if we let our fear of failure stop us from taking risks and never trying new things?
So scenarios with unsuccessful outcomes can be turned into learning opportunities. They must continue to push themselves even though there will be setbacks along the way. And if you find that they are struggling and feeling down on themselves and their accomplishments, remind them of the times they were successful and how they could otherwise manage the same situation in the future should it arise again.
We can never be completely sure if our children are ready for these life lessons, but they need the nudge. And it is our job, accompanied by a lot of praying, to give it to them.
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