WARNING: This post might ruffle some feathers.
I hope that no one would doubt my sincere and overwhelming love for my children. They are one of a kind and it amazes me to no end that although they both came from the same people and they are like us in many ways, they are also both as unique and separate from the Man and I as anyone could be.
One thing that is sometimes hard to swallow is that as much as I love these two wonderful children the Lord blessed me with, I will not be able to stop them from being hurt or having struggles. As a matter of fact, I have no control over what will happen to them throughout the duration of their lives. I sincerely trust that God will watch over them, and I pray that they will seek him to direct their paths, but that is sometimes as far as it goes.
Despite that, we live in an interesting generation. The generation that I grew up in and subsequent generations are often called the most self-centered generations in history. And as hard as it is to be grouped that way, I honestly can’t disagree. This is the age of participation points and no “losers.” When everyone does a “good job” and no one should be left out. And while adults should practice that, and teach their children how to do the same, these things are unavoidable. And sometimes I am afraid of what this is teaching our children by trying to avoid them so fiercely.
Understand that I am not meaning that we should teach our children to be cruel (we are all equal in God’s eyes!) or that they should thrive on the misfortune of others. What I mean is that often we, as parents, can be so focused on sheltering our children from hurt, pain, and mistreatment that we leave them unable to handle it as an adult.
Before, I mentioned that we have no real control over what happens to our children and that’s true. I did NOT say, however, that there was nothing we could do about it. Many people, myself included, see those outside forces inflicting pain and jump in to be the hero and be sure that it never happens again. But let’s consider our roles here. We only have our children for a very short time, and there are only two reactions to have when they are suffering. Do we react with our “mother bear” instinct? Or do we help our children hurt?
Before you freak out that I want to help my child hurt, let me give you an example.
My first boy is like my husband and I in many ways. He took my creativity and passion for stories and put his own unique spin on it, often inventing robots and new things to help me to do my work around the house. He is like my husband in that he is great with numbers and has a desire to learn. But as much as he has our good qualities, he has our bad qualities too. The most noticeable being his struggle to make friends. Several times in the past few years he has been labeled “weird” or the like because he is so invested in his imagination. One instance in particular, in April, two of his peers were mocking him and made fun of him until they were caught and told to stop. This resulted in a few tears and a slight withdrawal from that group.
I’m not sure I could adequately describe how my anger burned for a day or so. My heart ached for him and I wanted to deal swift and strong justice. It was made that much worse when I told the Man who, like a father should, wanted to deal with it. It took a great deal of self-control to sit down and discuss the proper reaction. After talking out our frustrations with each other we knew that a calm and measured response was called for. We had to sit in our living room, hold our boy, and tell him it was okay to hurt and be sad for a little while. We spoke about how that wasn’t the right thing to do, why we don’t do that to others, and what we do if that happens again.
Just as powerfully as I wanted to make it right on his behalf, I felt pride and gratitude to the Lord for my son when he told us he didn’t want to be that kind of person. He was hurt, but he knew that he wasn’t going to respond that way.
Now, he will probably hurt someone that way someday. Not because we taught it to him, or even that he would mean to, but because he is human and a sinner and will learn through experience. When he was hurt that way and we helped him deal with it and to have the spirit he needed to– it served him well. He now has that memory tucked into his heart and if that were to happen again, and it probably will, he will know it is okay to hurt and how to deal with it.
I only hope that I will have the strength to endure it also.
Something they don’t tell you about motherhood is that just as much as you have lived your own life, you will live theirs. When they are full of joy, so are you. When they hurt, so do you. Motherhood is a unique and wonderful blessing and I praise God he gave it to me.
I challenge you today, tomorrow, or next month, to review your reaction to their lives. There is nothing wrong with fighting a battle or two on their behalf, but what will they have gained? If your babies (who are no longer babies) get their feelings hurt, struggle learning something new, or find themselves challenged. Help them to wait, learn, or hurt. Help them to learn those coping methods and struggle through so that instead of raising another round of selfish generations we can raise up a Godly seed, and a generation that can handle the responsibility of adulthood.
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