When to Let Them Struggle

My five-year-old and I snuggled on the couch a few nights ago as I sat listening to him read his bedtime story. I was so gratified. So filled with pride. But more than that, he was proud of himself. We’ve been reading one page a night for several weeks now and have almost reached the end. He sounds out each syllable and puts it together as I smile cheer him on and think to myself how big my boy has gotten. I close my eyes and think how far Chris and I have come on this journey called parenthood, with all it’s ups, downs, twists and turns.
Looking back on that evening I realize it’s a beautiful illustration of a lesson I’m learning. Day by day, moment by moment. I have to let my kids be free to fail. To struggle. To learn things for themselves. To see me fail and no it’s okay. For weeks, when we presented Jaden with a new book he wasn’t familiar with he’d say, “I can’t read that. It’s to hard.” We’d push and encourage him to try, until we eventually caved and either picked another book or read the more difficult one to him ourselves.
But what do these actions teach our son? When something is difficult to walk away? To never try anything you’re afraid might be too hard? No, this is not the kind of message I want to send to our kids. So finally one night, we sat and we made it through one page. And then another and another. One step at a time.
To see the look of sheer joy and fulfillment on my son’s face afterwards was more reward than I could ever need.
I know not every battle will be as simple as making my child read a book. There will be times when I need to step in and fight for him, and situations he’s not equipped to handle yet. But there will also be times when I have to let him grapple. To fall to brush himself off, and to get back up again. Sometimes only to fall again. Because these trials are part of growing up. Of learning to stand on your own.
Watching my sons struggle is one of the hardest parts of being a mother, because  my maternal instinct begs me to swoop in, do the hard stuff for them, and make everything better. But if I’m constantly doing all the difficult things for my children, they will likely grow up thinking they can’t do anything for themselves.
I want to raise boys who are confident in their God-given abilities, not boys who are afraid to try.
God, give me the wisdom to know when I need to put on my lioness suit, sweep in and save the day, and when I need to back off. Help me to raise children who are not afraid of failure, because failure is part of growth. May they become strong men of faith, sharing your love without fear of timidity. Amen.
“‘See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in Heaven.” Matthew 18:10

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