The Profit of Pain by Gregory BlandJan 20th, 2011 | By Greg Bland | Category: Parenting
Loosening our grip on control; releasing responsibility; allowing our children to make decisions and experience the pain of failure may be among the hardest things for parents to do. But, these are the essential ingredients necessary for our childs healthy development toward responsible adulthood.
For many parents we believe protection is the perfect expression of our love. In the name of love we . . .
protect and shelter our children from the consequences of their decisions;
make decisions for our child knowing that this will keep them safer;
tell our children what to do in order to prevent them from failing.
In what way(s) does sheltering our child from pain prepare them for the reality of life they will face as teenagers, young adults and beyond? How does this prepare them to face the more complex decisions and issues they will encounter as they get older?
Protecting our children in this way often prompts one of two responses from our children. A. It develops an unhealthy dependency upon us as parents to protect them and/or rescue them from trouble, which can easily be carried well into adulthood. B. It can subtly push our children away from us as they respond to their increasing internal desire to exercise their growing ability to make decisions and take responsibility for their lives.
Is sheltering our children from pain the best expression of love for our children? To answer this we must look to the author of love, God Himself. For a moment think about Gods approach with us as His children. He allowed Adam and Eve to experience the consequences of their decisions, knowing that a greater purpose was being served. Although He did not condone their disobedience, He still loved them enough to let them make the decision and live with the consequences. Lets make it a little more personal. Does God make our decisions for us or allow us the freedom to make decisions? Does he shelter us from the pain our decisions bring, or allow us to process the pain for greater character development? The answers to these are obvious, but through it all, we would still affirm His undeniable love for us.
Parent Coaching is all about helping our children make connections between their experiences and how they can apply learning to their lives today, at whatever stage of development they are in. Children in turn become passionate and interested in growth when they are given responsibility, connect with real life experiences and are encouraged with the progress they are making. The broader our childrens experience, the better they will be at handling new challenges, solving problems, and overcoming difficult situations in the future.
The greatest expression of our love can be seen in our willingness to release responsibility to our children, in proportion to their growing ability, allow them to make decisions and experience some pain along the way. At the same time we commit to walking with them through the process by positioning ourselves as their coach to talk with when they need us.
I will not deny the difficulty of this, as parents we too experience the sting of pain when our children suffer and we dont particularly enjoy it. But that pain is part of the price we must pay to raise responsible young adults. As parents we have a choice, we can feel a slight sting of pain as our children learn from their mistakes now, or we can feel a greater depth of pain that is associated with a teenager or young adult who is just learning about the consequences of their decisions.
The older our child becomes, the bigger the decisions they will face. This of course brings greater consequences and increased pain. In light of this, there is no greater expression of our love than allowing our children to experience and learn from their mistakes within a loving and restorative home. Understanding these experiences are serving a greater purpose; to prepare our children for life as responsible adults. Further, there is no better time to begin, than during their childhood.
Until next time
Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
*Gregory and Lynn Bland reside in Pleasantville, Nova Scotia, Canada and are actively coaching, writing a parenting book and developing a course to assist parents in learning the heart, skills and disciplines of Pro-ActiveParentCoaching. Additionally they are providing interim pastoring for the Maritime District of the PAOC. For more information check out Pro-ActiveParentCoaching or write to email@example.com.