I well remember when my kids were little. They would skin their knee and I would kiss their boo boo, give them a hug, and help wipe their tears away. These were tender moments of connection letting my child know that I would always be there for them when things hurt. And then they’d go out to play again and I knew that sometime in the future, they’d be hurt again and the cycle would repeat itself.
And I’m wondering if we have lost sight of those tender moments after the skinned knee.
Do we interject ourselves into their lives so much that they can’t fall down?
Let me explain.
As my kids got older there was more at stake in letting go. With more freedom comes a responsibility that shifts to our kids. And we make decisions on whether or not we will let them skin their knees.
We wonder: Will they make the right choice? Say the right thing? Embarrass us? Do something stupid that could jeopardize their future?
Will the mistake they make be something we can’t fix with a band-aid?
And instead of sending them back out to play, we intervene so they don’t skin their knees again. We worry about their grades, their achievements, their future and we don’t want them to hurt. We want them to feel that they are as good or better than those around them. We want them to be at the top. But we forget that the struggles are what bring about emotional maturity.
Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “That which does not kill us, will make us stronger’. And his statement has been proven true by brain research and the many situations where kids have survived against all odds.
And I’m wondering what we are so afraid of that we can’t let out kids fail. Does it have something to do with us?
I’ve seen parents who are doing their kid’s homework, paying for never ending lessons and sports, trying to make sure that their kids can be the best they can be and intervening when they aren’t the one chosen. We clean their rooms, do their chores, and give them whatever they want because we don’t want them to experience life struggles or we don’t want to take the time to have to help them pick up the pieces when they mess things up.
We don’t want our kids to experience painful experiences like we did as a child so we intervene rather than provide growing opportunities where our job should be to sit back and provide love and emotional support.
By the time these kids are adults, when something goes wrong, many young adults don’t know how to learn from their mistakes, pick themselves up, soothe themselves, or tell themselves that everything will be alright. After all, that’s mom’s job.
Just the other day I heard a story that made me incredibly sad. A mom was on vacation and kept getting calls from her 30-something daughter. “Mom, you have to come home. I need you. I can’t do this without you.”
Like always, this mother came to the rescue. What was supposed to be a two week vacation turned into a two day vacation. She went home to help her daughter. What this 30-something daughter wanted was for Mom to talk to her boss because she was about to be fired.
In essence, “Mom, get me out of this jam I’ve gotten myself into.”
And supermom puts on her red cape and soars in to do a rescue.
I hear stories of mothers who are going to their adult children’s houses to clean, bailing them out of financial situations, and letting them continue to live at home rather than booting them out of the nest. I’ve talked to a host of parents who feel like they are being held hostage by their adult children who always seem to need something from them.
Oh my, what are we doing to ourselves all in the name of “helping” our children?
And my question is, “Have we let them skin their knees enough in the little things of life so that they can handle the bigger things as our kids get older?”
Think about lifting weights, or training for a marathon, or even trying to lose weight. We wouldn’t go into the situation trying to lift the heaviest weights or go out and run over 26 miles the first day. We wouldn’t try to change our diet restricting calories in a way that would set us up for failure.
So why do we do this with our kids?
When we are working toward a goal, we work slowly seeing little successes so that we learn what works and what doesn’t. We celebrate the achievement to spur us on to the next level.
We should be doing the same thing as we set the goal of raising emotionally mature adults. When our kids skin their knee and struggle through life’s problems, it really hurts the first time. But over time they can learn to shake it off as it happens over and over, knowing they’ll be able to overcome the feelings of inadequacy as we stand by and offer emotional support instead of doing things for them.
By seeing their success and failures, our kids build up resilience. They find success. They discover who they are and who God created them to be.
When our kids fail in the little things, we can be there to put on a band-aid of encouragement and dry their tears by listening, showing empathy, and helping them think through what they could have done differently to have a better outcome. If we are there in the little things of life, then we should be able to fully launch them into adulthood rather than having to still be there to pick up the broken pieces of their lives.
Failure on a test or detention for not doing homework is much easier to work through than having to deal with the potential job loss as a 30-something. By working through pain in little chucks, our kids will be more able to handle the bigger knocks of life.
When we are there to support our kids in the inevitable mistakes and failures of life, emotionally offering a tender moment of support just like when we kiss their boo boo and encourage them to go out and play again, our kids are easier to launch in a healthy way. Not only that, but it bonds us. By being there after our kids fall down, we get the awesome job of wiping their tears away and offering encouragement.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Help me to know when I’m doing too much for my kids. Help me to see when I’m taking the reigns and doing for them when they should be doing for themselves. Lord, I see my child’s potential when he doesn’t. I want what is best for him and I also want him to succeed.
Competition in life can be fierce at times and my natural tendency as a mother is to protect. I want my child to soar to the top, but I need to remember that you have created him for purpose. My job is to stay out of Your way and let him undergo the trials you have ordained for him. I need to remember You are writing his story and it may be different than the one I desire.
Please help me to let go so that my child will grow and mature in a healthy way. Help me create an atmosphere in my home that when my child fails, I’m here to offer love, support, and guidance encouraging him to stand up and go back into the arena.
I fail so many times in parenting toward the goal set before me to launch in a healthy way. Give me the ability to make hard choices and let my child skin their knees so that he will be useful to your purpose. Help me release my child to you so that You receive glory from his life.
In the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
Dare you to take inventory and decide where you need to let go. And ask God to help you be successful as you head toward the day of launch.
“Let go…and Let God”,
Do you ever wish you were more aware of the pitfalls you might be making in your parenting? Do you wish you could talk openly with other women about parenting struggles without fear of judgment? Many women do. And that is why the book With All Due Respect was written. It takes our fears and pitfalls and helps us think through what we really desire–deeper connection with our kids and successful launch.
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