Yesterday, I wrote about raising kids and the need to take responsibility rather than pawning it off onto someone else. I am learning more and more each day that part of raising kids is being willing to let them take responsibility on their own and knowing that there will be times when they fall. Falling is part of life, as are the bumps and bruises that we get when we fall. But we hopefully don’t stay there.
Earlier this year, my family took a cross country trip to Minnesota. We stopped to see some friends in Iowa and our kids were playing in their driveway. My little girl has taken to keeping up with her older brothers. She doesn’t realize that she’s not quite two years old, so not much really slows her down.
As she was running up and down the driveway, chasing balls, watching scooters, and being right there in the mix, she fell on the pavement. My wife and I began to clap for her the moment that she fell. Without even missing a beat, she got up and got right back to it again.
My friend was a little taken aback. I don’t think she expected the kind of reaction that my wife and I had or the reaction that our daughter had either. We told her that we had learned with our other two kids that if we wanted them to get back up again, we really needed to encourage them. We didn’t clap because we were happy that they fell, we clapped to encourage them to get back to their feet again.
It will be harder and harder for me to watch my kids try and fall. Right now, it’s just from scooters or skateboards, in driveways or in backyards. One day, it will be in jobs or relationships, things that have a deeper impact than a few external scars. How will I react? Will I clap for them to get back up?
We all need that in life. When we fall, and we will fall, we need people to clap, not because they’re glad that we fell, but because they want us to get back up again. Letting them fall doesn’t mean that you don’t care, it means that you’re willing to let them do it on their own. Letting them fall will teach them so much more than babying them every time they get a simple scratch. Letting them fall may be equally painful for children and parents alike.
The greatest lessons that I have learned have come from my failures. Occasionally, I’ve learned from watching someone else’s failures, but more often than not, it’s from experiencing my own failures. I am who I am not so much because of my successes, but because of the failures and falls that I have experienced. I am stronger. I am wiser. I am more resilient. And someone let me fall. Thank God that they did. Thank God even more that they were there when I did and that they encouraged me to get back up again and not give up. It won’t be easy, but I hope that I can do and be the same for my children and others as well.