“Where parents do too much for their children, the children will not do much for themselves.”
~ Elbert Hubbard
I first read this story from a unknown author in the late 90’s and looking back it seems prophetic at the time.
The Story of the Butterfly
A man found a cocoon of a butterfly.
One day a small opening appeared.
He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours
as it struggled to squeeze its body through the tiny hole.
Then it stopped, as if it couldn’t go further.
So the man decided to help the butterfly.
He took a pair of scissors and
snipped off the remaining bits of cocoon.
The butterfly emerged easily but
it had a swollen body and shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch it,
expecting that any minute the wings would enlarge
and expand enough to support the body,
In fact the butterfly spent the rest of its life
It was never able to fly.
What the man in his kindness
and haste did not understand.
The restricting cocoon and the struggle
required by the butterfly to get through the opening
was a way of forcing the fluid from the body
into the wings so that it would be ready
for flight once that was achieved.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life.
If we went through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us.
We would not be as strong as what we could have been.
And we could never fly.
When you are under pressure, remember that you are a stronger person after you have gone through it.
It’s difficult watching someone you care about struggle. As parents, it’s especially hard watching your child struggle. A few weeks ago, Nathaniel was struggling to put the finishing touches on his mousetrap racer for a Math Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) competition the following day.
As I was watching him, I was growing anxious and impatient it was taking him too long with what he was trying to do so I told him let’s get ready to go to hardware store so we could get the parts I thought he needed to finish.
To Nathaniel’s credit, he asserted he didn’t want to get more parts but he wanted to use masking tape instead. Masking tape? Who would have thought! I gave Nathaniel the masking tape and he completed his racer. The next day his racer placed 4th in his bracket.
While it is instinctive as parents to want to help in some instances we need to learn to wait and let the process unfold on its own. This is especially true if you have problems parenting from guilt. We can watch and be available should our help be needed, but not get involved when there is no real need to.
As long as we are here on earth we will have struggles. Struggles are needed in our lives to move us to greater heights. When we are trying to make sense of life’s many struggles we must remember it is a time of :
- Finding purpose
- Discovering a new direction
As difficult as it may be remember you do get past the obstacles.
- Only do for your children what you know they cannot do themselves. Give them the opportunity to show their ability and talent. See your children as confident, capable and resourceful. Stand back and be your child’s cheerleader. Our job as parent is to encourage our child’s growth.
- It our child’s life, we cannot live vicariously through them. The fact you didn’t make varsity in high school doesn’t mean your son has to. Help your child discover and follow their own path not the road you didn’t take.
When we take on our children’s struggle for them, thinking we’re helping them – we may be actually crippling them. Out of genuine concern we may be actually keeping our children from flying. As parents our goal is to help our children develop their own tools so they can use them to struggle and fight their way out of the cocoon. Children need a parent who is both strong and loving. A parent who can set firm and loving boundaries instead of doing everything for them. If you would like to learn more about how not to be a guilt driven permissive parent get John Rosemond’s book, “New Parent Power!