There’s a great discussion going on over at Faith & Family LIVE! after Arwen Mosher’s excellent post where she asks an important question: How should we strike the balance between encouragement and realism with our kids?
“I think it’s great to tell kids that most things are within their reach if they work hard enough. But my perception is that the ‘if you work hard enough’ part of that proposition has mostly been dropped in popular society.
It leads to situations like the case of a teenaged boy I knew a few years ago. He planned to be an engineer. He was also failing half his classes because he couldn’t be bothered to turn in his schoolwork. He saw no disconnect between his goals and his behavior.
Encouragement is a wonderful thing. But I think that the encouragement that we give kids these days could benefit from a healthy dose of realism.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Her post actually reminded me of a news story I heard about a local preschool that removed the line, “The cheese stands alone” from “The Farmer in the Dell.” Their reasoning? No cheese (or child) should have to stand alone.
I kid you not.
Most parents and educational institutions won’t go this far (I hope) in artificially padding children’s self-esteems. But the way I see it, even if we’re guilty of taking less ridiculous steps to shield our children from the struggles they’re sure to face, we’re still only sharpening their disappointment in the end.
Life isn’t fair. And sometimes it’s hard. Really, really hard. But life’s not all doom and gloom. It’s through their very struggles, hard work, and their overcoming of obstacles (including loneliness) that children find their way and gain a real sense of self-worth as well as an awareness that nothing in life is free with the exception of God’s love. It is often when we are stripped of nearly everything that we are most aware that God is all we ever needed.
As much as I want my “babies” to be happy and to dream big, I know that struggle is a good thing. We are entitled to nothing. I have to encourage them to sometimes stand alone on their own two feet because I won’t always be there to catch their fall. And when they do find themselves face to face with adversity, I pray that I will have served them well and that they will be primed not only to persevere but to also accept their limitations, to let God in, and to live “Thy will be done” instead of “My will be done.”
The cheese may stand alone, but my children never will.*
*I edited my conclusion a bit, thanks to Karen.