But sometimes that's what I need to do. I need to watch. When my kids struggle, my first instinct is to step in and help. That's what moms do, right? We help our kids. But sometimes, what they need is to struggle. Sometimes what they need is to learn to be an advocate for themselves. Sometimes what they need is to learn that not every effort leads to success. Sometimes what they need is to find that success often only comes through struggle.
But it's so hard to watch. My older daughter is going through a struggle right now. And I can see how to make the situation improve. I can see the words that need to be said and the actions that need to be taken. But she has begged me not to step in. She has asked to handle the situation on her own. She's almost 14, and because it's not something that impacts her safety or her physical well-being, I need to let her.
I can stand by and offer support. I can offer suggestions. I can point her in the direction of people who can help her. But at this point, I can't step in. I can't save her from the struggle. And it is so very hard. As many tears as she has shed, I've shed more. I hate to see my kids hearts hurt.
But going through a struggle makes our kids stronger on the other side. They learn that they can survive. They learn that they can solve a problem themselves. They learn that the things you have to work hard for are the things that are worth having. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says "In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."
When our kids struggle, they are going through their own refining process. God may be using those struggles to teach them something they'll need to know in the future. He may be using those struggles to strengthen their faith. He may be using those struggles to point them in a different direction.
If we always step in and save our kids from the struggle, our kids will never learn those life lessons. They may never learn new skills or head in a different direction.
When our kids are struggling, they need us to be a soft landing place for them. They need to know that we're there to offer hugs, to wipe up tears, to offer advice and to let them know that they are unconditionally loved. They need to be reminded that their self-worth doesn't come from the thing they are struggling with but from knowing they are a dearly loved child of God. But they may not need us to step in.
Because every kid is going to struggle. If we save them from the struggle, we deprive them of the opportunity to learn how strong they really are. And we may be robbing them of an important lesson God is trying to teach them.
Don’t forget to check out my new book Everyday Truth: Teaching your kids about God during life’s everyday moments. Available in paperback at Amazon.com.