Parents want to do everything they can to protect their children from pain, but a mother and author wonders if parents have their “job description wrong”.
Writing an article, published on Oprah.com, titled The most valuable thing a parent can do for their kids, Glennon Doyle Melton says instead of protecting children from pain, perhaps parents should guide them into the storm.
“What if, instead, our obligation is to point them directly toward life’s inevitable trials and tribulations and say, ‘Honey, that challenge was made for you. It might hurt, but it will also nurture wisdom, courage, and character," she writes.
“I can see what you’re going through, and it’s big. But I can also see your strength, and that’s even bigger. This won’t be easy, but we can do hard things.’”
While speaking at a conference, Melton said she realised a link between the parents who had come to see her talk: None of them could keep their children out of harm's way.
“Then this thought came to me: Wait. What if we’re not all botching our job as parents? What if we have just assigned ourselves the wrong job descriptions?” She said.
Also, they all wanted their children to grow up to be "kind", "wise" and "resilient" people.
Then came the light bulb moment.
Glennon asked the audience, “What does a human have to confront in life in order to earn those characteristics?”
The answer is “pain”.
“Struggle. It’s not about having nothing to overcome,” writes Glennon. “It’s overcoming and overcoming and overcoming yet again. So is it possible that we’re trying to protect our kids from the one thing that will allow them to become the people we dream they’ll be?”
“And is it also possible that as parents we feel like failures because we’ve been assuming the wrong roles? What if it has never been our job—or our right—to protect our children from every incoming bump and bruise?”
A parent's job is not to sugar coat the experiences they will have.
"It’s to assure them that when the turbulence comes, we will all hold hands and get through it together," writes Glennon.
"We do not promise them a heartache-free life, but we do assure them that the slings and arrows won’t kill them— in fact, they will make them kinder, wiser, more resilient.
"We look them right in the eye, point them to their pain, and say: 'Don’t be afraid, baby. You were born to do this.'"
This article originally appeared on Practical Parenting.