I know that one of our greatest hopes as parents is that we can somehow protect our children from the inevitable hurts of life. We cry with them when they fall as toddlers. We chew on our nails fretting about them when they don’t get invited to the birthday. And sometimes if our worry for them is too great to bear, we pretend everything is all right even as it’s all falling down around us.
When we do too much protecting we raise kids who won’t know what to do when they’re grown and gone and something bad happens. Those slings and arrows? Those are opportunities for your growth as a parent and your child’s growth as a human being.
I know, I know, some kids get more than their fair share and it’s all right to rant and rave and shake your fist at fate about it but then you need to get down to the task of dealing with it all.
So what then? What can we do when we can’t protect them from suffering?
We can give them resiliency.
- You can listen to your daughter through her tears when her friend isn’t speaking to her;
- You can answer his hard questions about divorce;
- You can find her a grief group when a grandparent dies;
- You can find him a book about moving when you sign the new lease;
- You can give her time and space to run when her feelings get away from her;
- You can give him tools like meditation or prayer to find his center when he feels lost;
- You can give her a journal to write down her feelings;
- You can find him a mentor when you feel overwhelmed;
- You can invite friends or teachers or coaches or counselors to help;
- You can break out popcorn and boardgames when everyone needs a break from grief or anger;
- And you can model resiliency by taking care of yourself and your sorrows, too.
You don’t have to go it alone. There are community resources and counselors, there are web sites and self-help books. You may not be able to protect them but you can shore them up. You can help them build their strength. You can be there.