Finding One's Wings
"Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it."1
It's an old story that we've all read about, but it's a good reminder as found in the following parable about "a new mother who discovered a butterfly struggling mightily to escape its cocoon through a tiny opening at the top. She became concerned when the creature seemed to give up after making no progress. Certain that the butterfly wouldn't make it out without help, she enlarged the hole slightly.
"On its next try, the butterfly wriggled out easily. But the young woman's joy turned to horror as she saw its wings were shriveled and useless. Her well-intentioned intervention turned out badly because it interrupted a natural process. You see, forcing the butterfly to squeeze through a small opening is nature's way of assuring that blood from the creature's body is pushed into the wings. By making it easier, she deprived the butterfly of strong wings."2
The same thing happens to children when parents over-protect them by doing too much for them, by spoiling them, or doing for them what they can and need to do for themselves, and by making decisions for them that they are capable of and need to be making themselves.
There can be a fine line knowing when to hang on and when to let go, but it's important to realize that, as parents, it is our responsibility to train up our children so that by the time they come to adulthood, they are capable of and responsible for taking care of themselves and are healthy, interdependent adults. True, good parenting requires parents to protect their children from harm, but being overprotective can cause children to grow up being emotionally immature or even emotionally crippled.
It's the struggles of life that make all of us strong and healthy. As blind and deaf Helen Keller once said, "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved."
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me the wisdom to know when to protect my children (and others) from harm and when to let go so they can develop their wings and become strong, self-reliant and responsible adults. Help me too, not to do for others what they can and need to do for themselves so they donít become over-dependent on me instead of being dependent on you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV).
2. Michael Josephson. www.charactercounts.org.