Friday, March 29, 2013

So you had a bad day...that's actually good

My daughter Chloe had a bad day recently.

And I didn't feel that bad about it. Why? Because she's the type of person for whom there simply aren't going to be a lot of bad days in store. She's talented, smart and charismatic, and those three factors combined tend to make for a relatively easy life.

Well, I shouldn't say I didn't feel bad about it. You always feel bad when things don't go well for your kids. In Chloe's case, in one 12-hour period she found out she lost the election for class vice president, and her indoor soccer team had its undefeated season ruined by a loss in the championship game. Disappointing, but not end-of-the-world stuff.

Still, I would imagine that 98% or more of Chloe's remaining days on the earth will safely be placed into the "good" category. And I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel about that.

Because really, it's the tough times that build our character, don't you think? You want your kids to go through the tough times so that they'll be able to deal with whatever life throws at them.

A friend of mine (whose Forgetful Genius blog I plugged here a couple of days ago) recently shared a quote by the author Robert Heinlein that I liked a lot. Heinlein said, "Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy."

This has, I have to admit, been the exact opposite of my parenting philosophy for many years. Too many times, I've taken the easy way out and made my kids' lives a little too comfortable.

We do that with good intentions, of course, but the results usually aren't good. Did they make a mess in the kitchen and now they're at school? My inclination is to just clean it up myself and try to remember to say something to them later. The better thing to do would probably be to live with the dirty kitchen all day until they get home and then make them clean it up. Otherwise, how are they going to learn?

The New Testament has much to say on the benefits of suffering and trials. But there's a part of me that would rather have that suffering and those trials happen to me and not to my children. And again I have to ask myself, how else are they going to learn?

It's like the child whose parents protect him from exposure to every possible infection and disease. He may not get sick in the short run, but over the long term, how is he ever going to build any immunity?

I like it better when Chloe is happy and successful. Which as I said is most of the time. My heart literally hurts when she's sad. But sometimes, I guess, if you truly love your kids, you're going to have to share that pain with them.

No comments:

Post a Comment