The notebook was on the counter when we left for school.
I knew it was a homework notebook and that the work inside was due. I also knew that I had asked my child twice to pack it into a backpack. And there it sat.
It took everything I had not to grab it and carry it to the car because I knew the anguish that was coming… for both of us.
Watching my children struggle is difficult. I have a natural desire to protect them from the hard things in life and from the consequences of their own actions. And without trying very hard, I could justify why they deserve a break…
But if my children aren’t allowed to struggle and fail now, when will they learn perseverance? How will they learn that poor choices come with a price? If I always rescue them, won’t they expect someone to do the same when they are older?
I want them to experience failure now, in the safety of a home where people love them. I want them to understand that their actions have consequences, and I want them to learn it while the stakes are still relatively low. And I want them to know how the real world works.
The real world won’t cut them slack because their dad served in the military and spent a lot of time in harm’s way. It won’t care that they moved around more than other kids, or that the Army moved their very best friends to another continent. The real world will make the same demands of them regardless of the hardship they’ve endured.
But if we can teach our kids responsibility now, the rewards will be great. If they are allowed to struggle now, it won’t feel so scary to struggle as an adult when the stakes are much higher. They’ll begin to develop confidence in their own abilities. And they’ll have the tools to handle whatever life throws at them.
So let ’em struggle. Let ’em fail. Be their cheerleader, and dust them off when they fall. Guide them when they make the wrong choice, and love them no matter what. It likely won’t be easy, but your kids will likely blossom before your very eyes. You’ll both be better for the experience, and the real world won’t be such a daunting place for our kids.