Written by Series Guest Blogger, Brooks Weatherspoon, a father of twin 12 year old girls that will give us insight into A Day in Fatherhood!
In the world of parenting, what we think is correct is often incorrect. Some of us learn this the hard way, and others learn from experience of a loved one. Pretty much every child will face life lessons at some point. Being a kid is tough! My twin daughters had a rough start in life because they were premature…born at only 25 weeks! When they finally came home it was a series of therapists and surgeries for a number of years and then further help when school started. Ultimately, they grew into the vibrant and healthy 12 year old girls they are today.
Because those early days were so tough, I tended to shield my daughters from any and all potential disappointments. I think any parent does this, but it becomes even more marked when your kids are sick. You want to “make up” for some of their pain and try your best to make their lives perfect. It took me a number of years to realize that shielding my daughters was actually crippling them in some ways.
If our kids are shielded from every disappointment, they are going to grow up crippled to a certain degree. There are some lessons that only experience can teach effectively. You can tell your child about heartbreak, but they still will be shocked when it happens to them. Life is set up to teach us through experience and we as parents are built to protect our kids from the same. So what gives?
I have found that the harmless lessons are the ones you really have to let go of. Socially, kids are going to run into pain all the time. These lessons are the kind that teaches them about life and social integration and are absolutely vital to their growth into adulthood. I once tried to shield my daughters from all pain, discomfort and difficulties where their friends are concerned. This led to them starting out very slowly socially and having few friends. On the advice of a friend, I let go a little and stopped trying to shield them and suddenly their social life bloomed.
Along with that blossoming social life came hard lessons and pain and it was not easy. I was there and listened, comforted and gave counsel where I could, but my little girls were hurting. It took some time, but those lessons stuck with the kids.
Obviously we have to shield our kids from things like cars, burners, fire and dangerous people. Many things out there are not nearly safe enough to allow them to learn through experience. Despite this, the little lessons are necessary in life. If we shield our kids from every little thing that comes along, they will never learn important lessons.
When my girls grow up, I want them to be strong, independent and adaptive women. I know they will be because they are so good at taking difficult circumstances and making it through. The ability to solve problems and make the best of a bad situation is a skill that you simply can’t tell your child about. You have to let them do it.
What thoughts do you have on the subject?