Your son doesn’t want to do it, so he doesn’t have to do it.
Whatever he wants.
Your daughter doesn’t feel like doing something, so she doesn’t have to.
Whatever she wants.
Heaven forbid our children ever feel disappointed, afraid, unhappy or uncomfortable. We wouldn’t want that now, would we? Or are we doing our kids a disservice by allowing only what makes them feel safe, happy and comfortable?
Parents we need to be properly pushing our kids.
It’s okay to make comfortable kids uncomfortable.
In fact, it should be one of our parenting goals today. We are on a journey to raising adults, not oversized children and since real life can get pretty uncomfortable, it’s good for kids to feel that reality now.
Like an eagle who encourages his little eaglet to fly, we must do the same for our children. Let’s lovingly push our offspring to the edge of our nest so that they gain the courage to fly on their own one day. How can they do that successfully if we don’t properly push them along the way?
Our teens head to sleep away camp in Branson, Missouri for a few weeks of their summer. The first time we sent our kids off to Kanakuk, they were not happy campers. No one was interested in leaving their comfort zone to bunk up with strangers in unknown territory and honestly, it was extremely difficult for me to let them.
We continue to send our now happy kids off to camp in the summer to build positive traits that they certainly can’t gain at home scrolling social media from the leather sofa.
As a parent, we must lead our child.
How come so many of us are being led by our sons and daughters instead?
Leading our offspring well may call for us to properly push our kids in an uncomfortable direction.
I hear parents say all the time, “I wish mine wanted to do that, but they don’t want to.”
“I can’t get them to do that, even though I think it would be good for them.”
“I don’t know why she doesn’t want to drive….. or take that honors class… or get a job… or go away to camp…” and the parental excuses go on.
Really Mom and Dad? Who’s leading the charge?
What if doing something you felt was beneficial for your child wasn’t optional for them?
My kids didn’t have the capacity to know that summer camp would be great for them. All they knew is the idea felt uncomfortable and what adolescent wants to joyfully sign on for discomfort?
Our children can’t possibly know how they will personally grow through experiences, so it’s up to their parent to guide them into areas of growth and development.
What happens when they say no thanks, not interested?
One of our sons saw no reason to get his drivers permit and said he had no desire to drive. Was it laziness, fear or entitlement that kept him from wanting this teenage rite of passage?
We told our son that it didn’t really matter if he wanted to. Instead, we told him that it’s a privilege you get at 15 1/2 and he would be taking the test on that day, so he may want to study.
After our son passed the test, he said he didn’t want to get behind the wheel. So, we handed him the keys and told him it was his turn to drive. And don’t you know he’s the first one in the driver’s seat every chance he gets now. Go figure.
What if we had let his fear of the unknown win out?
What if we would’ve just continued to drive him around because he said he wasn’t ready for the responsibility? We would’ve missed a big opportunity to empower our son and show him that he is absolutely capable.
My son that didn’t want to drive is the same son who wanted to quit baseball in middle school but he couldn’t give us a legitimate reason why. He had only ever played little league so we provided him a different opportunity on a club team and told him he could bid farewell to baseball if he really didn’t enjoy even a higher level of the game.
Guess what? Our firstborn loved playing high school baseball this season. His teammates are his friend group and his confidence has been strengthened by being a part of the team.
What if we had let him quit when he thought he wanted to?
What if we hadn’t purposely pushed him to continue something that we thought he may enjoy down the road?
Sometimes, parents, we know best and we don’t need our child’s approval to guide them forward.
I’m not saying to push a child to do something they despise or have no aptitude in. We let our children choose their passions and walk away from things that no longer serve them. The key is to be in close relationship with your child and know them well enough to know when to push and when to stay put.
Forcing a child to do something because it’s our will and desire is not the same as encouraging them into a space of discomfort in order to grow through the experience.
Perhaps the next time your son doesn’t want to do something you know is rooted in fear, you confidently push him into the discomfort.
Or if your daughter doesn’t feel like doing something because it’s out of her comfort zone, perhaps the best thing you can do is properly push her into that space where she can grow and see what she really is made of.