Raising Children to Risk

I’m neck deep in 4th grade math when a small hand pats me.

“Mom, cute!” I look down and notice her vibrant and varied shoe selection.
A sleek leather mary jane on one foot and a splashy pink glittered flip flop on the other.

“Yes!” I said, “cute!” -meaning her, not necessarily the shoe selection.

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I’m learning that raising children means embracing them and their uniqueness.
My goal as their mother is not to make them fit my expectations, but to help them reach their fullest potential as the person God created them to be.
Sometimes that means choking down a fat piece of humble pie.
Sometimes that means not meeting other parents expectations when I know the back story on my child’s situation.
Sometimes it means letting my children make mistakes and face the consequences instead of hovering over their every decision to “protect” them from failure.
I’m raising them in my own needs and flaws, and attempting to extend the grace to them that I find myself needing so deeply.

I’m not raising my children to be perfect, to never fail, to always get perfect grades.
Yes, we reach for excellence in every area possible.

We’ve all seen the mom who cannot ever really let go. The one who forbids her boys to climb trees lest they fall and break an arm. The one who never lets her 3 year old use scissors cause she might cut herself.
But the reality is, experiences teach much better than rules and words.
Warn them, yes, but don’t coddle and bubblewrap them.
They need room to grow and run, and tumble at times.

My mom had to gulp so many times as my brother struggled through becoming a man, without a dad and surrounded by women.
It ended in a salty way, with his death at a very young age.
Could she have prevented him from going on that campout? Yes.
Would it have been right? No.
She did what every good mother would do, she let go and prayed her heart out.
And although his story ended so much sooner than we expected, he tasted God in those months of deep searching. His journey was a hard one, but he found God.
And even though it is hard, it is good.
Stories written by God rarely are penned the way we expect.
He sees the big picture, while we are zoomed into the here and now.

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It’s a real world out there, and our children will face hardship and failure if they live in authenticity. I want to show them that getting up when they fall demonstrates much more strength than never falling at all.

Risk is worth the risk. Failure means reaching for growth, and finding what didn’t work. Experience is a rich and valuable teacher, even when it is a salty one.

Mothering involves all of us. Letting go of reputation, expectation, perfection.
It demands everything.

But it returns ever so much more.

Become their biggest cheerleader. Laugh more, and stress less.
Be the place where they know they are always safe and accepted and loved. Not because of any grade or performance, but because you know and believe in them as a person. And because you just plain LIKE them.
Their heart is always safe with you.

These children are one of the biggest gifts we will ever experience.

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