Learning the Tough Lessons in Life
by Beverley Paine, 2009
A homeschooling friend recently had the problem that every lesson she prepared for her son simply became a springboard to something totally different - usually in the direction he wanted to take it which wasn't the outcome she'd planned for at all. An ex-teacher friend made the comment that he had "too much control over his environment, and that school would show him that life isn't all about what he wants".
This is something I battled with for years - knowing that my kids needed to learn the tough lessons... Eventually I realised that life itself teaches us that. We can't get what we want when we want it all the time, and sometimes not at all, for lots and lots of reasons, and when we think about it, this is a lesson that we begin learning - naturally - in the crib! We seem to worry more about our kids learning this lesson when other people point it out to us; for example, when their perception is that our kids are 'spoiled' or could be 'spoiled' by us not forcing them to accept - right now - the inevitable reality that life isn't what we'd like it to be all the time!
Thomas has come to slowly work out - in his teen years - that there are many things in life that need to be done that he doesn't want to do, but they must be done for life to flow smoothly, or for him to be able to achieve his goals. It's a matter of simply getting on and doing them. Putting them off seems to make the tasks more arduous - the expectation of burden grows and grows and begins to overwhelm... I don't think any of my children would have learned this lesson earlier in life - they simply didn't have the self-awareness. Children don't think about time the way that adults do. They live much more in the moment, something many of us strive to achieve once again through learning meditation, etc!
I used to worry that my children will never learn the harsh lessons if they weren't forced to suffer the consequences, etc when they were young. I hated forcing my children to do anything - the battles were exhausting. All too often I gave in - and sometimes I wish I'd been a little more consistent with my parenting approach - but overall, the passing of time and living of life with its myriad of experiences was enough to teach my children these lessons. And in a much more gentler, less stressful and self-esteem affirming way!
I now question MY motives for wanting my children to learn or do anything. If I'm driven by a need to satisfy the expectations of others I back down. As a family we've learned to weed out the unnecessary wants from the real and immediate needs. Chores can be a bore, but they need to be done and when we work within a framework of needs, satisfaction seems to follow.
Some folk will have you believe that the only way to learn how to deal with bullying - another of life's harsh realities - is to experienced bullying first hand at school...
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