3 Gifts Our Kids Miss When Life’s Too Easy
It was the thing about their easy life that worried me the most while I was gone. Somehow, my husband and I had managed to get out of town for a few days recently. My dad was staying with the kids. And I knew he’d take good care of them. But, without my presence, I feared that one particular land mine would surely explode.
Mornings are the Means’ family’s Achilles heel. Getting my kids to school on time consistently seems to be akin to turning water into wine. Not possible without Divine intervention. And even Jesus has His work cut out for Him.
I was just sure that my poor father would call me, frantic and begging for me to return so I could rescue him from the insane morning madness.
But the call never came. Not one bit of morning drama without me. Huh?
In fact, when I returned, both of my children — separately — said almost the exact same thing to me: “Mom, no offense, but mornings were better when you weren’t here.”
Well shut my mouth.
My kids had actually been completely responsible for themselves in the morning. And they liked it. All my “you need to get moving” and helping them find gym clothes or suddenly lost textbooks?
Turns out, they really don’t like that. I think even they were surprised.
When the safety net was taken away for a few days, they stepped up to the plate. Not everything went smoothly everyday, but they found a way to handle it. And they felt more confidence, more grown up, doing it on their own.
Making things too easy for them — not allowing our kids to struggle — isn’t in their best interest.
Over the past five years, I‘ve been determined to shed my people-pleasing, enabling tendencies with my kids. My need for them to be out of pain all the time is actually what really hurts them. That’s a very motivating realization.
When I force myself to allow my kids to struggle — or when they experience difficulties that I am powerless to do one thing about — I notice how God develops their character in amazing ways. These are three gifts I’ve seen difficulty develop in my children:
1. More Confidence. Kathy explained this very well in her post yesterday. Kids don’t gain self-esteem by our words, no matter how great of a cheerleader we are. They gain confidence by doing — even if that means failing a few times before they have some success.
2. Compassion. Both my kids have unique ongoing struggles. For my son, it’s physical. He has battled cystic fibrosis since he was born. My daughter’s struggle isn’t related to her health, but it’s just as real and difficult. Sure, there are times when they both get angry and resentful. But, mostly, I’ve noticed that it’s developed in each of them a tender heart.
When someone is sick or hurting or struggling, they immediately commit to pray for them. And they do it — sometimes everyday for months. They’re also quick to want to do something tangible to help, if it’s within their power. Pain and struggle has developed a tender spot in in each of their hearts where empathy and compassion are taking root.
3. Dependence. That’s right. It makes them more dependent. But not on me. I’ve watched my children’s struggles deepen their walk with Jesus. Their need, their problems — especially the ones I can do nothing about — prompt them to depend on Him for strength and guidance. Doesn’t it do the same in us, as adults?
Our human inclination is to want life to be easy for our kids. But all we have to do is watch an episode of the Kardashians to realize that’s not a good idea.
Struggle, as hard as it is for us as mothers to watch, gives them so much more than comfort does.
Sometimes, we just have to get out of the way so they can open those gifts.