Albert Einstein once said, "Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better".
Oh yeah? Well, Mr Einstein, can nature teach me how to navigate the subtle nuances of parenting? Can it teach me when I should step in and help and when I need to stand back and let them build coping skills and resilience? I think most parents find it excruciating to see their kids in pain and struggling in some way and I am no exception. It is tough to witness your child collecting the shards of their broken heart or feeling lost at a crossroad and unsure of what path to take next. I have spent many years as a parent second guessing myself, feeling under qualified and wondering if my children will need years of therapy to undo any damage I may have done in my quest to raise them well.
I recently read a fabulous blog post by Jen Hatmaker, who states: "Could it be that we are simply too precious about parenting? Have we forgotten the benefit of letting our kids fail? Figure it out? Work hard for it? Entertain themselves? We put so much undue pressure on ourselves to curate Magical Childhoods, when in fact, kids are quite capable of being happy kids without constant adult administration. I would argue that making them the center of the universe is actually terribly detrimental. A good parent prepares the child for the path, not the path for the child." Well said, Jen, couldn't agree more.
I took the image above shortly before the monarch emerged from her chrysalis. Part of what gave her the strength to stretch out those glorious wings and fly away was the struggle it took for her to break out of her cocoon. If I had taken pity on this poor creature in the midst of her struggle and had carefully peeled open her temporary straight jacket, her wings would remain crumpled and she would not have the strength to fly. She would die before her first flight. Growth rarely happens in ease and comfort. It is the challenges we face in our lives that builds the inner resilience and strength to navigate life's uncertain and often rocky terrain.
Maybe one of the greatest tools we can empower our children with is the gift of learning to be present and trust their own inner compass, their innate wisdom, the "still small voice" inside. To hear the whisper of the soul we need slow down, become still, connect with our breath. Clarity arises and the next wise step becomes more apparent. These are behaviors we can model for our children and they are powerful tools when life throws a curve ball.