It is an odd development of the modern world that being excessively anxious about our children is considered a virtue. We consider ourselves good parents if we make life easy for them, reward them for the smallest achievement, and are anxious for their safety and well being at all times.
There is, however, a hidden message in all of this anxious attention and it's not good. As a teacher and school principal for 20 years, I saw all kinds of kids and all kinds of parents. For those who had confidence in their child, their child did great. Those who worried, who expressed that worry regularly, who tried to 'fix' every challenge the child had - their children had a weak sense of self. The hidden message was clear - "My parents are worried because they think I am not competent, I'm not capable."
Being a mother is not easy. But it's not that hard either. It is said that if a child has a self-assured and guiding adult in their life, they will grow up to be self-assured and self-guiding adults. Mothering means being there, but also not being there. It is patience, it is trusting that the child will figure it out, and it is watching from a distance as they do so.
There are many aspects to good mothering, but this one is key. We have to give our children the skills and emotional strength to make it through life by letting them experience and learn through real life. And that means letting them experience their own struggles. If we smother them, if we overly fret and protect, then we extinguish the fire of trust and competence. It's a fine line, but we need to have the maturity and wisdom to make the call.
Watch the excellent job this mother does:
This famous poem can also inspire us be the balanced and stable parents our children need us to be:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.