One of the hardest parts about our parenting journey has been knowing what to do when our kids struggle. I’m not even talking about the true tragedies that sometimes befall a child or family. Just the stuff that happens because we breathe air, walk the earth and interact with other people…
Ya know.… “That girl across from my daughter in kindergarten was mean to my baby and she neeeeeeeds to hear from me about straightening up!”..”the punk on my sons football team”…”that coach who didn’t see my daughters clear athletic prowess” …”that teacher that “hates” my son…” etc. (Do I seem angry?) It goes on and on…and it is life. Painful, messy, uncomfortable life.
Of course OUR kids are “perfect”, but lets just say that “HYPOTHETICALLY”, one or two or ALL of them had/have difficult seasons in there lives. Whether socially, academically, spiritually, athletically or maybe all four at the same time (and man those are fun times!) we saw/see it and we hurt for them. We want to take the pain away and make it better. In fact, in some ways we believe it is our duty as parents to remove the pain of life…and it is …kinda…our role. But to what extent?
So really……. when DO you step in? When do you say something? When do you just take care of it? And when do you just help them “struggle well” through it?
I would never argue against being on our children’s “side”, “in their corner” or “on their team”. But here is the truth we know, but hate to look at: If our children never struggle well through difficulty and perceived personal injustice, then they will never become adults who are strong, capable and mature.
Five Quick Things to Consider…
- PARENT YOUR KIDS LIKE GOD PARENTS US. Sometimes our Heavenly Father steps in and saves the day. But most of the time He allows consequences to help us grow up. He comforts, guides and loves but He often also”allows”. I think that is because consequences are usually the best way to grow. Even consequences that are “unfair”. (Gal 6:7 MSG)
- KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE: We all want well-behaved, respectful and healthy children right? Illustration: “7 year old Johnny won’t listen to his teacher so he is reprimanded. This hurts his feelings…which hurts mom’s feelings…which makes dad angry. Defending Johnny’s behavior may be a great way for you to feel better about yourself but a terrible lesson for Johnny to learn. What if Johnny never really reigns himself in because he knows mom and dad will take his side even when he misbehaves? (2 Timothy 4:7-9 MSG) Remember: What is cute as a 7 year old is really ugly at 13
- VALUE THE JOURNEY: Some seasons are dark and full of difficulty. Some seasons are refreshing and fun to be involved in. But all of the seasons are part of a bigger journey towards maturity and adulthood. In every season there is growth. And growth is good. (Ecclesiastes 3 MSG)
- GUIDE YOUR KIDS OVER THE ROCKS, DON’T REMOVE THE ROCKS FROM THE PATH – Margie is a runner, recreational and sometimes hard core. The prep for a marathon (or as I call it, 26.2 miles of voluntary insanity) involves hard times. Usually a lot of heat, hard ground, early morning runs, aching muscles, increased distance etc… serves to give her the best chance of completing the race she is intent on running. She would never survive the rigors of a marathon without all of the resistance she faces preparing for it. Same is true for our kids… no resistance, no growth… no failures, no successes. No small wounds, no callouses to get through the big wounds that are coming as they grow into adulthood. (2 Tim 2:3 MSG)
- CREATE A “HOME THAT IS A HOSPITAL” Pain does not start in the hospital, it ends there. Home is not where pain starts, it is where it is dealt with by Drs. Dad and Mom. Our “scalpels, anesthesia and stitches are truth, love and hugs”. If a child (or spouse for that matter) has no place to heal properly from the wounds of life then, like a broken leg that isn’t set right, the wounds will linger and may never fully heal. (Micah 6:8, Romans 15:5 MSG)
Hope this is helpful,
Margie and Hixon