COMMENTARY 899.1: Let the Butterfly Struggle

A young mother was fascinated but concerned as she watched a butterfly struggling mightily to escape through the small opening at the top of its cocoon. And when the creature seemed to give up overwhelmed by the task, she felt sure that it wouldn’t make it without help. So she enlarged the hole.

The grateful butterfly wriggled out. Unfortunately, its wings were shriveled and useless. The well-intentioned intervention interrupted a natural process. Forcing the butterfly to squeeze though a small opening is nature’s way of assuring that blood from the creature’s body is pushed into the wings. The butterfly escaped the cocoon but without strong wings it could never be free.

Childhood, too, is a sort of cocoon. If a healthy adult is to emerge there must be some struggle.

One of the hardest things for loving parents is to know when to let kids work their own way out of the rough patches in life. Of course we should always be supportive and demonstrate caring and we should look for opportunities to give them strategies and tools to deal with their problems. But if we are overprotective, they will not struggle enough and without some struggle they may not develop the strength and confidence they will someday need.

Children must be allowed to learn from their mistakes and pay the price for their own bad judgments. Parents who buy their kids everything they want and always bail them out of trouble do them no favors. In fact, they may be preventing them from growing the strong wings they need.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 19

  1. I really like this commentary of a butterfly being helped too much and therefore being unable to use his wings as a result and fly free. It reminds me of raising my 4 year old. There is so much I want to do for him but I realize I need to let him do somethings for himself even if it means falling down or failing.

  2. Humans should take a lesson from the baby butterfly in regard to interfering with the natural process of bringing a life into this world. Premature babies in the U.S. are routinely provided heroic measures to keep them alive, at great financial cost, which is shared by everyone’s health insurance premium, and is one of the reason health insurance costs keep rising each year. In addition, premature babies typically grow up with a life of medical and learning disabilities (of course there are exceptions), that again are paid for by everyone’s health insurance premiums and taxes.

    In un-developed countries, and throughout man’s evolution, these premature babies would either die soon after birth, or if they survived, they did so because they had fortitude to survive and be healthy.

    With heroic medical efforts now keeping preemie babies alive, we have essentially interfered with nature’s natural process of evolution to weed out unhealthy and weak babies, and ensure survival of the fittest. A baby born prematurely should be left to fight for survival without technological measures such as medical incubators. If the baby survives on its own with the help of mother, then that baby does so because it is strong and ready for life, and like the butterfly fighting to get out of the cocoon, is natures way of ensuring that the species survives.

    1. Great commentary……in the bigger picture, there are way too many people on this planet. If we do not get a handle on this over-population, eventually future generations will suffer far more than a preemie that nature has taken.

    1. If I did, I would not want it kept alive by expensive artificial technological means. That would be akin to someone who out of compassion would open the cocoon, because they could not bear seeing that struggling baby butterfly try to fight its way out. As for humans, throughout the evolution of man, and every other species of animal on this planet, Nature, God and/or mother will do what they can. If the baby survives, then that was meant to be.

  3. I think my 27 year old, Healthy, Mother of two, neice would disagree with you. You see she was born 2 months early at 3.5 lbs and we are GREATFUL for all that was done to help her get through this struggle. I believe that she is a stronger, more forgiving, and understanding person because she is greatful for just being..She strives hard to help the people around her and is an amazing, caring, and compasionate person. She is not wealth from a monetary stand point but would give her last dollar to help those in need. I look around and see many more people who were born full term and did not struggle to live with less compassion and kindness then her. In the long run aren’t these the people we want to emmulate as a society, the kind, strong, compassionate ones? I thank God for her everyday!

  4. Sounds good;impossible. No Dr. or nurse I ever met would stand there and watch a baby die. Your position is totaly unrealistic. I would not let my child die;would you?

  5. Secondly, the struggle out of the cacoon is a God designed process. The process has a good reason for its existance. I see little comparison between the catapillar’s natural exercise and the babie’s abnormal fight for life.

  6. I hope you never do; ANY baby deserves a chance at life! Surgeries have been done in effort to help babies before they’re even born. Plus, it’s not the babies fault. Usually it’s the poor choices the mother makes that causes the prematurity to begin with…. and then you want to punish the baby by letting it die???! I don’t think so….

  7. If you can’t distinguish eating and gluttony, training and torture or complaments and patronization work harder, pray or…..

  8. I’ve been really struggling with how much I should do to help my 26 year old son who is still in college, married, and working as a waiter. He has not had the best track record when it comes to managing his finances, often making selfish choices instead of wise ones. I’ve paid off two car loans, a credit card, and we send him money to pay other bills. Recently, he told me that he missed the deadline for retaking the ACT test and will have to extend his college career for another semester to do his student teaching. In the same breath, he asked if I would co-sign a student loan for him. I told him I would pray about it and would give him an answer the following day. The next morning I got to work and opened my email to find these words staring at me from the computer screen, “Let the butterfly struggle”. I pray my son gets his wings and flys…all by himself.

  9. The responses are interesting. The writer refers to childhood as a sort of cocoon for the comparison. If the ‘try and fail and strengthen by trying’ doesn’t happen in childhood, then we have adults who are not equipped to handle life. When a hard/unplesant situation arises that adult can’t/won’t handle it or look for possible solutions. If they had more opportunity to try as a child then those ‘resource/can do’ muscles would develop.

  10. This is a tremendous topic really for all of our citizens. Focus on our children certainly is critically valuable; with the wisdom of Solomon being the quest.

    Devotion, faith and love must come into the considerations when we let our children fail or struggle. Being nearby to “pick them up” and keep them from serious harm is always caring and good certainly.
    When my Mom and Dad sent me away from home to live and work on a summer job at age 13; I was a little scared but overall excited for my adventure !! This parental courage allowed ME to grow tremendously.

    Teaching our children to SAVE their monies, instilling consequential pain on occasion is a tremendous life skill that will protect and serve them mightily over their lives. Saving a substantial portion of our income might be one of the greatest life skills to achieve; keeping us away from unproductive debts that sucks the life out of too many people. Consumerism is NOT healthy nor long term productive without solid savings all along the way !!

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