I hear a lot of people say that all they want for their children is for them to be happy. Well, with apologies to my kids, that’s not what I want for them.
I want them to live lives on purpose, with a purpose and for a purpose. And that purpose is not just for their own pleasure. I want to teach my kids that life isn’t about them. Life will have peaks and valleys, challenges and triumphs. And, while peace and happiness can be found through living life well, happiness and contentment are byproducts, not end results. But, to teach them this, it means exposing them to challenges along the way instead of shielding and protecting them. After witnessing Adelyn the other day, I’m afraid I’m already a few steps behind with the older two.
A few days ago, Adelyn was playing on the floor. She was reaching for a toy that was just beyond her grasp. She was centimeters away, but just couldn’t quite get there. Fearing she was getting frustrated, I was ready to push the toy towards her. I was not going to give it to her, but put it just within her reach. Thankfully I took a minute to watch and wait. What I saw, was a determined six-month-old. She rolled herself away from the toy, which I thought meant she had grown tired of the game. Instead, she flung herself back towards the object with enough force to get her close enough to finally grab it. I was very proud of her in that moment. Her persistence paid off. And suddenly I was reminded of the countless times I “helped” Jonas and Kenna by handing them exactly what they wanted. If only I had waited. What sort of early lesson on perseverance would that have been for them?
I’m not saying that I failed them as a parent because I handed them a block instead of making them work for it. I’m just saying that sometimes a parent’s job is to sit back, watch and wait. We can cheer them on from the sidelines, but we don’t need to control the game. In the end, we might be pretty surprised by what we see.