I know it seems like we at SPLS keep returning to this theme: We harm our kids by trying to protect them from obstacles, struggle, disappointment, failures and losses. If we present these tough situations in the right way we will help our children immensely in the long run.
There are times when I look back on my childhood and realize that if I share my experiences I will sound like the old folks who claimed they walked to school two miles every day…barefoot….in the snow… and it was uphill both directions.
At the risk of sounding like a caricature, let me share one brief life experience.
I told my parents I wanted to play Little League baseball. I was probably in fifth grade. Other kids, of course had started much earlier, so I would be behind the curve, so to speak. They said OK but I had to do the leg work. Teams were organized around the local elementary schools. However, when I went to the first practice for the school one block from my home I was told there were no open places. If I wanted to play, there was a team needing players at a neighboring school two miles away.
My mom did not drive and my dad worked long hours. So I hopped on my hand-painted yellow bike with self-installed monkey bar handlebars and a banana seat and showed up to where the Fowler’s Pancake House team was practicing at Lakewood Elementary.
I knew no one, so I just walked up to the coach and said I wanted to play. For two years I rode my bike to every practice and game. Only once do I remember my dad attending a game and my mom would never have thought of going.
I look back on those years fondly, even though being legally blind in one eye made my time at the plate an adventure.
Do I believe that I was somehow scarred because I did not have my own bat, carried by my parent to the field in a custom gear bag along with my name brand spikes? Was I damaged because no one was in the stands keeping track of my on base percentage (thank goodness) and grilling the coach about why I was in right field instead of shortstop?
No, in fact, while there is a little wistfulness in realizing my very loving parents showed their love in different ways, I am glad that my parents gave me the chance to be independent. They let me face life’s challenges without providing a safety net for me at every turn. It is very possible that I would have never been able to do many of the things in life that have required independence without learning to step out and take risks and learn from mistakes in my childhood.
Take a look at what leadership expert Tim Elmore has to say below and check and see if your kids are hearing the helicopter blades chopping in the background or the snowplow barreling down the street.
In His Children’s Service, Robert C. Boyd