shoes walking on a path
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Preparing the Child for the Path

Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child.

I really believe in this parenting wisdom. I want to teach them independence. I want them to learn how to face obstacles and discomfort and disappointment. I want them to face rejection and realize their value does not depend upon getting the grade or the spot on the sports team. I want them to face FOMO and realize they are held and they are safe and they are beloved without attending every party and without being in the middle of every conversation. 

Well, in theory. In theory, I want all that.

William is away at school for the first time. He’s only 14. He’s also only 40 minutes away. We Facetime daily and see him a few times a week and he is happy and experiencing all the good hard stuff that comes with leaving home. I tell myself he’s prepared, and then I learn of the possibility of him getting cut from a team or being slighted by another kid or making a decision he might regret. 

And it is everything I can do not to rush in and clear those rocks and roots out of that path. 

It’s true with a little less intensity (and perhaps more ability to clear rocks and roots) with the girls. 

But my job is not one of trail maintenance for our children. Rather, it is one of praying for them and showing up when they are hurt and showing up when they are happy and listening and sharing my own experiences of falling down and letting them learn how to get back up again. My job is letting go when they are walking all on their own and listening when they’ve gotten a little beat up along the way and loving them when they need me to walk the path by their side.

Peter, William, Amy Julia, and Penny smile for a selfie with their arms around each other and stand in front of a brick building with a brilliant blue sky behind them

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