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.

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