As a new parent, I no longer fear holding a baby, changing diapers, or knowing what he wants. The name of the game right now is simply “Keep him alive.”
Now I have new fears. Pretty soon the name of the game will become, “Shape his character, teach him about life, and introduce him to Jesus.” That’s kind of a big deal.
I find myself watching news and reading articles that once were irrelevant to me. Whenever the public school system is in the news, I no longer change the channel but listen intently, wondering (to be honest, fearing) what challenges my wife and I will face raising our son in a few short years. I’ve joked (only half-joked) with my wife that we can just wrap him up in bubble wrap and make sure he never leaves the house.
Recently in one of my classes at Western Seminary, Gary Thomas encouraged me to rethink the bubble wrap idea and to be careful to not raise my children to be scared of failure. He shared this quote by *Dr. Melody Rhode:
“The phrase ‘growing pains’ goes beyond aching knees to describe aching hearts and disappointed souls – essential experiences on the path toward maturity. If we ‘protect’ our children from all risk, challenge, and possible rejection, they likely will become developmentally stunted and will therefore remain immature.”
What parent doesn’t instinctually want to keep their children from adversity? However I was convicted by the reality that our attempts to protect our children from failure can sometimes set them up for it.
The “growing pains” that come from failure is hard to watch as parents, but it’s necessary for our children’s growth. First of all, failure will develop their character. Only in the light of failure will they develop humility, perseverance, and courage to try again. Only when they fail will they have the opportunity to learn, grow, and experience the success of handwork.
Not only will failure help them grow and develop into a mature person, but it will also help them spiritually. It’s failure that will help them understand their need for a savior! Children who win all the time, who only do things they are awesome at, and have never faced a challenge, aren’t aware of the fact that they aren’t perfect and have weaknesses and needs. It’s only when we take off the bubble wrap and let them experience failure that we give them space to discover their needs and learn to ask for help. By allowing them to understand a basic premise of humanity, “I need help,” we are planting seeds that will one day blossom into their reliance upon the gospel about a God who’s power is made perfect in our weakness.
*Dr. Melody Rhode is a Christian who works as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Bellingham. See her profile here.