Here it is, the newest release from bestselling author Rick Johnson…I’m sure you’ll value Rick’s work and message as much as I have over the years. He’s been the voice for raising strong sons who grow into strong men. Who can say an, “Amen!” to that?
Here’s an except…if you like what you read, please do order a copy for yourself and a friend.
10 Things Great Dads Do: Strategies for Raising Great Kids by Rick Johnson.
Gleaned from Chapter 8 – Teaching Character: Allowing Your Children to Suffer
Greatness is not possible without some sort of failure to overcome. Suffering develops character. Without suffering we never have the opportunity to test ourselves and see what we are made of.
If that’s true, then it goes without saying that our children need to suffer in order to develop a healthy character. For so many of us the challenge is how do we allow our children to suffer enough to develop character without traumatizing them? Many parents today ‘rescue’ their kids too often, never allowing them to face the consequences of any of the choices they make. ‘Helicopter’ parents hover over their children never allowing them to take healthy risks and possible get hurt. Since it’s virtually impossible to succeed at life with taking some risks these children are psychologically crippled by the very thing their parents think is helping them.
Upon reflection both my wife and I readily agree that we probably rescued our children too much while they were growing up. With both of us having come from abusive and highly dysfunctional backgrounds we wanted to spare our children the agony of growing up under those kinds of circumstances. But by not allowing them to suffer through their failures, we probably kept them from fully developing key character traits that would have benefited them greatly throughout their lives.
Suffering teaches character and yet for most parents it is unthinkable that they should allow their children to experience any form of suffering. Many young people today have never suffered a day in their lives and so some (even those from the best families) feel lost, unnecessary, or insignificant. This can create a host of problems for a young person.
Human beings need to be needed. This is such a strong need that if people feel that their life is insignificant or has no purpose they will commit suicide. They might also behave in ways that give them a false sense of belonging or importance. They might seek undue attention, use their power harmfully (bullying), or seek revenge for perceived slights or wrongs. Rebellion or passive resignation are linked to this kind of perception of oneself. In young people these feelings can result in destructive behaviors like drug and alcohol abuse, promiscuity, or criminal activities. Studies of the chemistry of the brain show that the chemicals that regulate mood, motivation, resistance to illness, and depression are highly influenced by our perception of personal significance.
Children need to struggle. If for no other reason than persevering through our struggles matures us and develops healthy self-esteem. It helps us to feel valuable and important. They need to wrestle with questions and problems. They don’t need to be rescued and seldom want to be told all the answers. But they do want to be valued.
Teach your children to learn how to suffer—to suffer ‘well.’ Suffering is a fact of life—no one escapes this world without suffering. Those who use that suffering to learn and grow from are much healthier and happier than those who wallow in their despair.
We only have a few years to teach our children a moral foundation. Most people think we have 18 years, but that’s not true. At best by the time they are ‘tweens they pretty much have the character platform set in place they will have for the rest of their life. We don’t have a lot of time to waste. As difficult as it may be, it’s better for them to suffer a little under your guidance when children, then to suffer the much greater consequences as an adult because they didn’t learn how to suffer well.