Have you ever been to a butterfly house? The Butterfly Pavillion is just fifteen minutes down the road so when my kiddos were little, we went there all the time. As soon as I’d paid the entrance fee, my children would run straight for Rosie, the tarantula, and bravely allow her to walk across the palm of their little hands. Next we’d hit the ocean exhibit where they could touch a sea anemone and the back of a horseshoe crab. It was there that I’d offer some tidbit of knowledge so that I could put my Invertebrate Zoology degree to good use.
Ahhh, the things we do.
Then my children would dash into the heated butterfly room wearing their red shirts hoping to attract one of those glorious flying creature to land on their shoulder.
Those trips to the Butterfly Pavillion went fast as I hurried around, trying to keep up with my little people, making sure they were having fun but not touching the insects. And while I was flying around I’d always spy a single figure, someone who usually looked like a grandparent, sitting still on the bench watching the chrysalises, hundreds of them, that were pinned to the board, hoping to see a butterfly emerge. And I’d join them for the thirty seconds that I had.
Every once in a while we’d get lucky and see it happen, the arrival of a butterfly, but that was rare because the process is slow (something I never had the time for as a mom to four little children) and honestly, really hard to watch.
Legend has it that if you help a butterfly to escape from its chrysalis, it won’t be strong enough to fly. The struggle of freeing itself is what prepares a butterfly to make it in the world. And so it is with our children.
Because it’s really hard to watch our kids struggle, isn’t it?
Watching them get left out of a group event, or work their way through a disagreement with a friend, that’s hard. Watching their frustration as they learn a new skill or a sport can be hard too. Watching them learn to take responsibility for their actions and then suffer the consequences when they don’t, is difficult for us.
But we must learn to let them struggle.
It’s their only way to freedom and the only way that they will be strong enough to fly. Instead of fixing their struggles, we are to support them through times of trial, by…
- listening to them vent
- holding boundaries and house rules
- brainstorming new ideas but letting them choose their course
- letting them know we love them
- being present to witness their struggles
- reminding them that they can do hard things
Because it is through our struggles that we find that we really need God.
How can you let your child struggle today?
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope.
By Dale Skram
Mom of four
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
real.life.speaker, real.faith.writer, and real.life.coach