by Kyndra Steinmann
Has it ever occurred to you that you could love your children too much? That you could do too much for them and make life too pleasant and easy? That sometimes the best way to love is to let them fall down as they learn to walk, or to let them fail that spelling test you know they haven’t studied for (despite numerous reminders)?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as we settle into school and household routines again after moving to a new town in a new state. Our move coincided with Jack’s deciding—at 22 months—that he was going to stop taking a morning nap, do everything that the big children could do all by himself, and want Mama within touching distance at all times!
Now the morning nap thing changes our school schedule but isn’t a huge deal, and the “I-must-be-able-to-touch-Mama” thing means I get my workout every day without having to think about it. The “I-must-do-everything-myself” business is a bit more difficult.
That’s not because there are things he can’t do, but because his older siblings love him and rush to his aid as soon as he starts to fuss. He doesn’t want help and shrieks at them and then they think he doesn’t like them anymore because he screams when they come near. Fun times!
Now, the easy approach—and the one I take when I don’t want to be the referee—is to say, “No one go near the baby!” It works (kind of) but it doesn’t really solve the problem. He’s not learning to accept help and communicate in a good way, and they aren’t learning to ask if help is needed or desired before jumping in.
So I’ve been spending a lot of time saying, “Stop! Use your words. If you were trying to do something would you want me to come in and take over?”
I’ve been examining my own interactions with the children, too. I do tend to jump in and do things “right,” and I also have a habit of giving too many chances to the child who is refusing to follow directions.
I think it’s an easy trap to fall into. We want our children to be happy and successful but sometimes we forget that we are raising adults–and adults need to know how to struggle, persevere, and even fail. Schooling prepares our children for life not just by teaching them to read, write, and figure, but by giving them the skills to keep going even when things aren’t easy. They need us to tell them to keep trying when they are learning a new skill, and they also need us to give them the spelling tests that we know they will do poorly on because they haven’t put in the effort to do well.
Letting them fail is an important part of loving them into adulthood.
Kyndra Steinmann blogs at Sticks, Stones and Chicken Bones about living in a houseful of young children, special needs, discipling hearts, and abundant grace! As a homeschool graduate, she has an especial burden to encourage mothers to know and enjoy their children. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.