[June 20, 2022] Here’s a realistic perspective on life. Life is difficult, and you cannot protect your children. What you can do is prepare them to be strong, courageous, truthful, and resilient in their interaction with other people. This means that you equip them for what life will be, which at a minimum, is a series of difficult challenges.
Can you protect your children? This was a question asked of me many years ago by a young mother who had seen much tragedy in her life – she had lost both her parents – and she desperately wanted to shield her kids from life’s random catastrophes and the evils of others. Of course, we should protect our kids from immediate danger at the moment, but I told her that her best defense of her children would come from the survival tools she gives them.
A resilient person can stand up to those things in the face of fear and move forward, and do so voluntarily. Children can be convinced of their own competence and their ability to prevail as long as we teach them. A principal goal as a parent is to instill in your children a sense of courage in the face of life’s difficulties and not protect them so much.
People and children alike don’t want to be protected from those difficulties. Kids, especially, seem to have a sixth sense of this. “Don’t help me,” my young son would say when he was doing something difficult or dangerous. He knew I was not giving him the trust we parents must give their children by stepping in.
A major part of the meaning of life is the challenges that come with confronting difficulties. To seek out problems and overcome them is one of those mysteries of life. We seek out those that are the most difficult to solve because it gives us something to push against, and from that tough contest, we become stronger and more satisfied with ourselves. Kids can see this, often more than an adult.
If you love your child, what you should be doing is trying to nurture the best in them. You want that to manifest itself throughout their lives to see what they could be and for them to continually become more than they are. This idea is an ancient one. The reality of the world is tragedy and suffering but what emerges from that is the appreciation for what we all can attain.
We are unbelievably resilient and capable. You can’t protect your children, but you can teach them to overcome the many problems that will come their way and teach them to be courageous.
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