I heard something on the tv the other day that planted a brain seed.
They were talking about figure skaters and how they have to go against their natural instincts. I’m not a physics girl, but it did start me thinking. Skaters spend large parts of their day feeling like they are falling. Myself when I feel like I am falling it is my natural response to try and resist against gravity and catch myself.
After turning this over in my mind for a couple of days, this idea of skaters resisting their instincts to not catch themselves, and do so over and over again in order to learn, grow and perfect their skill, is yet another example of how resistance builds strength. Then came the lightbulb of how this relates to parenting.
For the last 21 years, I have carried 3 babies in my belly, and dedicated a large part of my existence to protecting these little cubs. Anyone who has experienced the surge of a momma or poppa bear roaring into action to protect their baby bear. Can probably all agree it’s a very physical, instinctual response when we feel our offspring is in some sort of perceived danger. Now, I use the term danger very loosely, because if we are being completely honest, often times the protective instinct comes from situations where we feel our baby cub is being wrongly accused, unjustly treated, picked on, you get the picture.
The question I now ask myself. Is running to take our cubs side the best thing we can do for them? My answer is NO! Even though going forward I will most likely still have moments where my instincts kick in and I try to protect my baby bear, without gathering all the facts, looking at their part in things or embracing an opportunity to grow and navigate life on their own. My answer is now, in order to let our children, find their strength in adversity, learn how to work through problems and also take responsibility for their part in an interaction. The most supportive parenting we can offer our children is, taking a step back, deep breath and having a little conversation with ourselves. You see the instinct to protect in a noble one, when we see our child in distress, our heart immediately takes over and we want to protect them at all costs, we don’t need details, we need to love and protect. If we can take a deep breath, step back, and come up to our heads. The air starts to clear and we can realize this is a learning opportunity put in our child’s path. A gift to prove they are resilient, resourceful and whole. They have the ability to learn and strengthen from any situation they find themselves. They are not victims, they do not need to be enabled by their parents. We should not insult the intelligence of our children by telling them they are special, great and unique. We should challenge them to over come adversity. Take on life’s challenges to strengthen character, and give them the kindness of honesty. You see greatness is really only sweet if its achieved through hard work, tough lessons and a building of integrity and character. Children who are told they are great, just because their parents think so, are the children who grow up, insecure, entitled and hard to be around. They know themselves they are living a lie, because they never really had to strive for greatness, they were just anointed by their parents.
I am going to continue to do my very best, to let my children learn from their mistakes, instead of covering them. Take responsibility for their part in an interaction. If someone wrongs them, I want my child to learn to collect the facts and advocate for themselves. I want my child to learn life changing skills built through over coming adversity.
I am going to do my very best to resist the pull of gravity on my heart. I want them to learn to navigate the world on their own, using the tools and values we teach them. I have this strange theory that life really does come down to all of our old proverbs, give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he can eat for a lifetime. I want my children to eat for a lifetime, so once again, I am going to buckle momma bear in and do my best to stay in my seat. I am going to strengthen my inner figure skater, resist the urge to catch myself, and let my children strengthen their life skills.