Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Benefit Of Two Wings

There is a story about a well-meaning mother who saw a butterfly struggling to get out of a cocoon.  The mother, as I said was well-meaning, so she decided to help the butterfly by opening up the cocoon so that the struggle would be less.  When the butterfly broke free, it ended up not being able to fly and in a short time, died.  What this mother didn’t know, unfortunately, was that through the struggle to get out of the cocoon, the butterfly’s wings would become strong enough to fly on its own.  The mother was just trying to help.

Every now and then, we hear of birds with broken wings.  They are unable to lift off the ground.  They have to be picked up and cared for until the wing is healed enough so that the bird can fly on its own.  One wing won’t do it by itself.  Birds need two wings.

The Benefit Of Two Wings.

As a former counselor, I’ve worked with parents of teenagers who would best be described as helicopter parents.  One parent comes to mind who intervened at any opportunity she could.  Her son did no wrong . . . never . . . none . . . ever.  It was always someone else’s fault.  Late work?  Miscommunication and a lack of clarity on the teacher’s part.  Late to school?  She drove, so she should be held accountable, not her son. 

Eventually, it grew.  Smoking?  On school grounds?  No way.  He wouldn’t do that.  A fight with another student?  The other student’s fault.  My son was provoked.

It seems that much like the well-meaning mother with the cocoon and butterfly, this well-meaning is hindering the strength of her son’s wings, inhibiting his ability to fly on his own.  I sometimes wonder if that young man ever learned to fly, or if like the butterfly, soon ‘died’ because of that inability.

The Benefit Of Two Wings.

I think there is also a benefit in having two wings that work, that are strong.  I think there is also a benefit in teaching one to use both wings.

I think that as parents, and as caring adults, there is a tendency to want to help children.  I think as caring adults, there is a tendency to want to help others, young or old.  I think that because of our own lives, our own mistakes, our own questionable and sometimes poor choices and the consequences we found ourselves in because of those mistakes and choices, we naturally want to protect our children, and the kids we work with from making those same mistakes, from making those same choices and falling into the same consequences we found ourselves in.

It’s only natural.  We’re human and we care . . . or at least we’re supposed to care, should care.

The problem . . . perhaps the balance . . . is in how much we can do, say, act and in what our children and other adults need to do on their own.

Brandon is a teacher and family friend.  We were discussing college and what we did or didn’t do while we were at college.  I remember worrying out loud over our daughter, Hannah, and what she might be faced with, what choices she would have to make, what decisions she might have to live with.  His response was, “You raised her.  You taught her.  Trust the job you did, the beliefs you instilled in her, and then trust her.”  I have to admit that I needed to hear that.  Had to hear that.

The Benefit Of Two Wings.

Kids need to learn to fly on their own.  Kids, and others, need to learn from their own mistakes, their own choices.  And then, learn from the consequences of those mistakes and choices.  It isn’t easy.  It’s hard to watch one of your . . . one of my . . . children struggle and suffer, even a little.  But without that struggle, their own wings, much like the butterfly’s wings, without the struggle with the cocoon, won’t grow or develop. 

If we can remember that, our kids will do well.  If we instill in them the belief and faith we have in them, give them support, encouragement, they will learn to fly on their own and their wings will take them in great and wonderful places, above and below the horizon.  Just as each of us did . . . and do . . . once upon a time.  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!  

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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe