Brene Brown said, “When we run from our struggle, we are never free. So we turn toward truth and look it in the eye.”
Well, recently, one of my struggles sat down right in front of me and my friends, I did not like what I saw. I saw myself as a mama. A mama who loves her babies. A mama who would do anything for them. That didn’t seem so bad. But then I looked a little closer, and I noticed that this mama has a really tough time sitting with discomfort. In particular, the kind of discomfort that came from watching her children in discomfort. I saw a mama whose urge to help was so strong that seeing her kids struggle created a physical feeling of panic inside her. She hated that feeling of panic so much that her well-meaning remedy to it became to focus her attention on minimizing their struggle as much a possible. Oof! See where this is headed yet?
Since then, I’ve been trying to make a more conscious decision not to rescue, and I’ve discovered that even in the small things, it’s crazy how quickly autopilot takes over. For example, simple statements like, “I’m hungry” or “I can’t find my shoes.” might be annoying, but I shout out a solution and get the tiny reward that comes from being helpful and solving a problem. These are small examples, but once I started to really pay attention I wondered, how often do these little shifts of power actually occur?
For the first time, I stopped and thought about what would happen if I continue this pattern of solving every minor issue that comes up for them. What would it actually teach them? I heal a momentary discomfort but leave behind a gaping hole where a lesson would’ve been taught had I not intervened. It’s had me considering who my child will be at 20, 30, or 40 years old if they seldom learn the discomfort of a mistake or how to take true responsibility for themselves. What kind of spouse, father, mother, employee, friend, HUMAN will they become if they grow up thinking they are not responsible or capable of solving problems independently? Today, it may just be about helping them work on an assignment they chose to wait until the last minute to start, but 20 years from now, it might be helping them pay the mortgage, so they don’t lose their house. Maybe that’s a big jump, but is it?
We are who we are today because a series of minor shifts and adjustments brought us to this place. Nothing is inconsequential.
Today I have to consider how my helping them might actually be hurting them, how I am robbing them of an essential life skill. How, even worse, I may actually be interfering with God’s plan for them by interjecting myself in the midst of each struggle instead of considering what the larger purpose of this current struggle could be. 😣
So now, I force myself to ask the easiest, most difficult question I know…Is this mine? Is this mine to fix? Is this mine to heal? Is this mine to solve? Is this mine to rescue? Is this mine?
When talking about overprotective parenting, Clinical Psychologist Jordan Peterson said
“Overprotecting by setting up a world that has nothing negative does not protect. It makes them weak.”
As a parent, all of our actions are communicating something to our children. We rescue to convey our love and dependability, but what if the more internal message they receive is… I need rescuing. I can’t solve problems on my own. I don’t have to solve problems on my own. Others have to bail me out, or I’ll never be successful. Other people should bail me out.
The next time I’m tempted to offer advice or solve a problem quickly, I’ll stop and think about whether my involvement really helps or hinders them from who I want them to grow up and become. I’ll remember that my overinvolvement overworks me and underworks them.
I’d love to hear what you think… Is there such a thing as doing too much for our kids? Leave your comments below…