I want the best for my kids. I want to protect them from pain. I want them to be successful. I want them to be happy.
When my children face challenges, my heart aches. I want to jump in and make it better. I want to rescue them. I want to fix it for them. I don’t want my children to struggle. I don’t want my kids to experience discomfort. I don’t want them to feel rejection. I don’t want them to fail. I don’t want them to be sad.
Yet personal experience tells me failure spurs on creative thinking and problem solving which leads to success. Struggles build the tenacity and perseverance muscles. Waiting develops patience, hope, and trust in the Lord.
This is something even better than pain prevention and protection. Preparation. Preparing our kids for what will most likely be a good life and a messy life. A life that includes challenge, struggle, discomfort, rejection, sadness, and failure.
So… here are 10 ways to prepare our children for real life.
1. Avoid the urge to fix my kids’ problems. Allow kids to wrestle with issues rather than experience being rescued from them. Ask questions (like the Consultant) to help kick start the problem-solving mind-set. Let them know you believe, with God’s help, they are capable of handling their struggles. And… you are there to walk along side them to offer support, encouragement, and help.
2. Avoid the desire to give my kids everything they want. Squelch impulsiveness and build delayed gratification. Waiting and working for a desired item allows kids to think through impulses. (Clearly this is a good thing for our teens, yes?)
3. Avoid comparing our kids to each other. Competition in a family breeds sibling rivalry. I want my kids to have a relationship that lasts a lifetime.
4. Avoid comparing our kids’ situation or talents to their peers. Comparison grows envy. I want my kids to appreciate and value who they are as God’s child and to be able to love others well.
5. Avoid confusing wants and needs. We don’t deserve something just because we desire it. Our kids are capable of earning desired items. Seek contentment in needs (not wants) being satisfied.
6. Avoid trying to make rejection better. Instead be the Chum and show empathy and love by listening, understanding, and sharing experiences. Have the knowledge that heartache builds compassion.
7. Avoid being the referee when your kids squabble. Rather be the Coach and train them how to work through disagreements agreeably.
8. Avoid focusing on the extrinsic success and develop intrinsic motivation.Instead of saying, “Congratulations you got first place.” Instead build the internal motivation, “I bet it feels great to have your blood, sweat, and tears effort rewarded. Congratulations on a job well done!” I want my kids to be internally motivated to do their best.
9. Avoid focusing on the “don’t haves” and refocus on the blessings. Thank God for the struggles and the things those challenges teach us. This means I must model that attitude.
10. Avoid valuing being served over serving. Humility is an honorable quality.
Here’s a bonus thought. Pray. Pray for the qualities and characteristics you would like your kids to develop. I have found, and perhaps you have also found this to be true, when I struggle the Lord draws me closer to him. I want my kids to have an intimate relationship with Jesus –and one of the best ways for that to occur is in the hard moments.
Just as joy and happiness are good things– struggles and challenges are valuable as well. Join me in trading in your enabler cap and replace it with an empowering parent hat.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 12-13 (NIV)
© LoriWildenberg. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13 Parenting.com. She has written 6 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home; The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections; and her most recent book, Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.