“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyse you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” Bernice Johnson Reagon.
One of my grown sons and I were having a conversation today around challenges, how they create strength within us and build our emotional and faith muscles developing us all the way through them.
As a parent, I haven’t always listened enough to my children’s fears and concerns as challenges came their way.
I have had to learn and even at this late stage in life, am still learning more how to listen well to the challenges my children and grandchildren are going through.
It is a true pleasure having conversations with my grown children who are now parents themselves as they tell me about how different challenges they are facing are helping them grow as people in their marriages, parenting and life in general. I know my heart has always been to be there as a listening ear for my children whilst they were growing up, I did it well sometimes and other times not so well.
It is one of the trickiest things to read when parenting. Our children need our listening ears and they need to learn how to work through the challenges without being paralysed by them. As a parent we walk a tightrope of listening enough, whilst not enabling our children to wallow in self pity and allow the challenge to stop them growing and become strong well-rounded adults.
I don’t know about you but I can remember as a young mum often being concerned about not getting this balance right and as a consequence my children may either feel devalued by me, or my children may not know how to face challenges well and grow from them. The good news is, I have discovered you don’t have to do it right every time in order to do it well.
Yes, sadly on occasions I didn’t listen enough, and at times I was too quick to say something that made them feel I just wanted them to move on and get over it, which wasn’t true. However, there were enough times when I listened well and long enough to teach them that life throws hard things at us and then give them the tools to work their way through it confidently with a good outcome.
Getting back to my conversation with my now grown son, it is so rewarding listening to him tell me how he has learnt that sometimes the hard times in life are the best places to be in so you can go to another level in your growth and development. He has learnt that without those challenges we can’t be fully matured and we won’t achieve all we were made to achieve.
I want to encourage every young parent that EVEN THOUGH you won’t get it “just right” all the time, if you listen enough whilst encouraging them to get up and go again it does work out in the end. If we only listen and leave them having a pity party we will disempower them, if we only tell them to get over it and go forward we disempower them.
My advice, learning from my mistakes and from what I did well, would be make sure you listen and make sure you encourage them to work through the challenges so they don’t get stuck. This last Saturday this same son of mine did an awesome job with this same dilemma as his three year old went to his first soccer lesson.
Frazer was very timid and hesitant however as his father Daniel was fabulous. He didn’t let him sit in his fears, he went on the field with his son trailing behind and staying very close for the first 10 minutes and then slowly but surely stood back where Frazer could still see him but far enough away for Frazer to feel confident and safe at the same time. It wasn’t long before Frazer was able to join in with confidence, it would be nice if every time it only took 10 minutes but we all know other times it takes much longer.
The point is, first listen and show them you care, don’t push them to get over it in your time, don’t be embarrassed by their hesitation and then after they feel heard and valued help them move forward. It may take a few weeks of Daniel bring on the sidelines close where Frazer can see him before Daniel will see him run on the field FULL of confidence and that’s OK too. I know I often say it, however, they catch much more than they are taught, so show them by example how you face your challenges head on knowing there is always something great you are going to achieve and learn from those challenges.
Share stories with them how you have gone in the past, how it felt for you whilst going through to your victory. Share with them the good the bad and the ugly. Take them on the journey with you of any new challenge that comes your way, involve them in the process as much as possible so they learn first hand the true benefits of challenges instead of fearing them.
Let’s face it. If we are breathing it is inevitable that challenges of some sort will come along but let’s not be paralysed.