Momservation: “What defines us is how well we rise after we fall.” Zig Zigler
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I am terrible at the trust-fall team building exercise.
If you want me to trust you don’t take a bite of my Ben & Jerry’s when I ask you to hold it for a second. No one has to fall. No one has to tragically over-estimate their ability to catch my lied-about weight. And no one has to be embarrassed because they Hershey-squirted out of shock when their “friends” chose a good laugh over your trust issues and let you hit the floor.
So it’s no surprise that I have a hard time letting my kids fall. Fall as in fail. Fail as in know disappointment, experience rejection, suffer pain, give in to anger, miss an opportunity.
Do I know these are growth opportunities? Yes. Did I experience all these challenges in life and survive, even thrive because of them? Most definitely. Am I trying to nurture the best possible people to send out into the world? Hell, yeah.
And yet I can’t stop myself from throwing my body under theirs at the slightest hint of failure from my children.
They have become too precious to me to fail.
I know I’m not doing my kids any god-damn favors because of my own personal demons that want to shelter my babies from life’s inevitable pain, suffering, and hardships. I can see I’m depriving them of necessary growth, experience, and opportunities to learn how to weather life’s storms and become resilient.
And yet, like a hoarder, I just can’t stop myself.
Well, guess what? Now that my teenagers are closing in on adulthood it’s time. I’m doing my own personal intervention and I’m going to do the trust fall.
- Because there’s a critical difference between guiding your kids and doing it for them. I want problem solvers not impotent thinkers.
- Because disappointments are a part of life and I don’t want whiners who always complain that everything’s unfair.
- Because rejection and pain are the battle wounds of the strong and the capable.
- Because watching a missed opportunity makes you hungry to do and be better.
- Because we aren’t getting out of this life alive. I want kids who use this time to seize the moment no matter how daunting, not spend it running from fears and uncertainty.
My promising 17 year-old son may not play baseball in college because he thinks he can just rely on natural ability.
My scary-smart 15 year-old daughter may run herself into the ground pushing herself too hard with too little sleep and poor nutrition.
But these are lessons they need to learn. It is painful for me to watch them fall. But by letting them do it in the safety of a loving, supportive home I will trust that they will be okay. There will be other opportunities and valuable perspective gained that can only arise out of failure.
Then when my kids pick themselves up from their disappointment and hardship I will watch with pride as they dust themselves off and forge ahead wiser and more determined.
And I will reward us all with Ben & Jerry’s that no one has to share.