I used to pray that our children sailed unscathed through adolescence and young adulthood. As a parent why would we ever want anything less for our kids? Retrospectively, I may have gotten this one wrong.
Years ago, as an undergrad resident assistant, come October I would have a small cohort of freshman outside my door. Their stories were similar; academic rock stars in high school, then during the fall semester of college they experienced a couple of missteps, a poor grade or two on a test, a broken relationship and then crash, the wheels came off the bus. Often they planned to head back to the safety of their parent’s home unless someone could bolster them up enough to regain their confidence and finish the semester. The other common denominator was that these kids hadn’t, until the first few months of college, experienced any significant setbacks in their lives – their parents, until this juncture, had doggedly paved the way for them.
Over the years, I have encountered a number of adults who, when tested, simply did not have the tenacity to persevere when things got tough. The proverbial wheels would come off the bus and they would sprint towards the safest and easiest solution. Was their lack of mettle simply inexperience in having survived tough times in the past? Could their parents have better tempered them for the rigors of adulthood? Maybe trying to protect our kids from every adversity actually makes it more difficult for them later in life inasmuch as they enter post-adolescence wholly unprepared for anything but the smallest setbacks.
I have finally come to look at adversity as a gift or at least a gift in the making. Adversity allows us to explore the depths of our resolve and, for some, gain a new perspective on their ability to respond proactively when their backs are against the wall. The other net positive when facing adversity is discovering who your true friends are. My standard maxim is your best friends are the few that “will charge the machine gun nest” with you. These friends are very rare; they simply appear when you need them without much fanfare or talk and remain by your side or sometimes in front of you and then retreat when the crisis abates.
So my new prayer for my kids goes something like this. “God, please give them the ability to understand that adversity is actually a gift and simply a part of life and whether successfully navigated or not, that with adversity comes the belief that they have the mettle to persevere.”
If you have a moment, also check out some words of wisdom I learned from the late Dr. Cromer on the best gifts you can give yourself and your children in the previous post.
Thanks all, happy holidays!