I was pretty sure I could reach her in time, should she need my immediate assistance. We’d never done this before. It was a huge leap of faith on my part and a huge step in independence for her. Instead of mommy doing the cooking; the girl was on her own.
There comes a point in life, when we do an injustice by constantly safeguarding our children. Life lessons are learned as much from failure as they are from success. We need to afford them the opportunities to help themselves and teach them to stand on their own two feet. Now, this is not to say we immediately toss our children to the wolves with no preparation! That would just be foolishness. No; I think we definitely need to prepare them, train them, and supervise them for a given time. All the same, at some point, there needs to come a time when we step back and see what they do on their own.
If we constantly hold their hand and walk them through every step of their lives, our children will never have the necessary skills to be adults. They will lack the confidence to fulfill their God-given roles, the skills to meet those roles, the wisdom to perfect those roles, and the motivation to do more. By the time my children reach adulthood, they should have learned to manage their own households. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, organizing, driving, money management, and more should all be skills they no longer need me for.
Yes; she might be eating slightly burned grilled cheese for a little bit. Yes; he might foolishly spend his money on items which have no value. Yes; they might choose to wait until the last-minute to get a job done. Those life lessons are important though; they will learn through trial and error. Incidentally, these are great learning opportunities.
Instead of me pointing out what they did wrong, I gently prod them to find the reason out for themselves. What did they think went wrong? Should they have lowered the fire on the stove or perhaps flipped the bread sooner? Did he do his research before making that purchase or make an impulse buy? By not immediately jumping in to help or point out the error, I am allowing my children to learn and come to logical conclusions on their own.
Does this mean they will never call me or ask for advice? Of course not! All of us need assistance from time to time; that is life. What it doesn’t mean is that they are making the same mistakes at forty that they made at fourteen. If they are, perhaps the failure lies in me.
Time to Chime In: How do you help your children help themselves?
“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” – I Corinthians 13:11