Thursday, February 10, 2011


The older Cole gets, the more I realize and have the face the fact that there are not always "right" answers when it comes to parenting.  Some days, I think I have never felt more unsure about what I'm doing - "Is this the right thing to do?  I don't know what to do!"  is a conversation Chris and I have often. 

One of my most difficult parental tasks?  Knowing when to interfere when Cole is frustrated. 

I desperately want to raise a child who is self-confident, independent, capable, and determined.  I want Cole to be tenacious and even somewhat stubborn when it comes to attaining a goal.  I never want him to feel as though he can't do something.

But it hurts my heart to see him uncomfortable in any way - frustration included! 

When Cole is lying on the floor, crying because he is frustrated with not being able to crawl yet, the first thing my mama heart wants to do is to run to him, scoop him up, and make it all better. 

But my mama brain tells me differently.

It tells me that a little frustration is a good thing.  A few tears can be helpful.  Is anything worthwhile accomplished without a bit of frustration?  Failures, setbacks, and defeat are part of life.  How many times did Edison fail before succeeding in inventing the lightbulb?  How many times will Cole fall when learning to ride his bike, fail when taking a test, get turned down when trying out for a team? 

And, when there's a little bit of struggle, a little bit of frustration, how much more proud of himself will he be when he finally succeeds?  Challenges are good for us.

And what will Cole learn if Mama always swoops in to help, to assist, to make it all better?  He will learn to be dependent, not independent.  He will learn that he is not capable or able, that he will not succeed or "do it right".  He will learn that I don't have confidence in his abilities.

So when Cole struggles to roll over, crawl, to reach a toy, I will not "help" him.  I will not show him how to play with a toy or object.  I will not show him how to do a puzzle.  I will not limit his creativity or curiosity. I will not "help" him fix any problem he is capable of solving independently, even it it takes awhile.

And tomorrow, when he is struggling to crawl, I will cheer him on.  I will encourage him and tell him how I know he can do it.  I will validate that it's difficult and frustrating.  But I will not swoop in and rescue him, as hard as it might be to be patient and relax - his glorious, confidence-building result of accomplishing a task without my help will be well worth any discomfort!

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