We’ve had a lot of moths around our house for the past couple of months. Whenever I see them flying around, I am reminded of a basic truth about parenting. What do moths have to do with parenting you may be wondering? Well, when I see them in the evenings swarming around an outdoor light, I am reminded of what it took for that fragile little moth to build up the strength and endurance to be able to fly.
I once heard a story about a man who found a moth’s cocoon and was intrigued by it so he took it in the house to inspect it closer. Upon further inspection, he realized that the tiny moth inside was working vigorously to come out through a small crack in the cocoon. As he sat and watched, it tried and tried to get out. As time went on, he became worried that the crack was too small and that the moth wasn’t strong enough to break it open, so he got a pair of tweezers and pried the crack open. How surprised he was when the moth came out, but had under-developed wings and was unable to fly.
What the man didn’t know was that it was the difficult process of working its way out of the cocoon that actually built up the moth’s wings so that it could fly and live a full life. When he “helped” the moth get out, he actually handicapped the moth and prevented it from reaching its potential.
Don’t some parents do the same things to their children? It is painful to watch our children struggle through something, or experience challenges and obstacles, because we feel the pain too. Our “mom-nature” tends to want to make things easier for our kids, to do everything we can to prevent them from feeling disappointment, hurt, or failure. When we do that, though, we actually hinder them from becoming the person God intended them to be. It is through overcoming obstacles, learning from mistakes, and working hard to achieve things that our children actually develop the “wings” they need to fly.
One of my favorite sayings is that we should prepare the child for the path, not prepare the path for the child. When we see things in their path ahead that will make their journey more difficult, do we run ahead of them and try to clear everything out of their way, or do we equip them with the character, work ethic, and skills that they will need to make it through the rough spots? When we allow our children to try new things, give them the freedom to fail, and learn from their mistakes, we help them develop courage and wisdom. When we allow our children to work through life’s difficulties, experience the consequences of bad choices, and work toward goals, we help them develop perseverance and character. The truth is, when we do things for our children that they are developmentally and physically able to do on their own, we hinder their growth.