Growing Pains

Andrea FortenberryFamily

As a parent, I acknowledge that I very often want my kids to experience a pain-free life. I want them to retain their innocence and mainly experience love, joy and peace. I don’t want them to struggle, experience loss or feel disappointed.

Do you feel the same way?

Sadly, because we live in a broken world, our children will experience pain at some point in their lives. But not all pain is bad, pain can sometimes be beneficial. Kids, just like us, need some level of discomfort in their lives to help them grow.

I was reminded of this last Friday, as both of my kids faced circumstances that, although unpleasant and uncomfortable, helped them learn and mature:

On the playground during P.E., a child in my son’s class threw dirt all over him. It was in his hair and all over his clothes. My son didn’t tell the P.E. teacher because he was far away. When I picked him up from school, I could immediately tell something was wrong, not to mention noticing that he was unusually dirty. He told me what happened, and I could see how hurt he was.

I reminded him of how it’s important for us to set boundaries with people and tell an adult when someone hurts or attempts to hurt us. Although he had told the child to stop, he didn’t. My son, who is very sweet and always thinking of others, didn’t know how to defend himself by leaving the situation to find the teacher. (He very much takes after me in this area!)

So we had a good conversation about boundaries, feeling scared and bouncing back from shame. I reminded him of how Jesus knows how we feel in all these areas and how He’s with us whenever we need Him.

Although my heart hurt so much that someone hurt my son, the situation enabled us to learn and grow from it. It also gave me the opportunity to dialogue with his teacher and she followed up this week with reminding the students about safe behavior, thinking of others and what to do when someone is being hurtful.

A few hours later on Friday at my daughter’s swim meet, she inadvertently missed her last race. Usually, the coaches on deck call each swimmer’s name for their race. This time, the coach didn’t call her name because he read the name for her lane from the wrong heat. We were on the other end of the pool, ready to meet her when the race ended, and it all unfolded before we could reach her and the race began.

When we got to her, she was inconsolably crying. The coach assured us he would get her in another race, but it would be with the boys. My daughter insisted that we leave, she didn’t want to swim anymore.

A few minutes later, it was time for her to race against the boys. She didn’t want to, but through her tears, we led her toward the platform. It could not have turned out better—she won first place and achieved her personal best time in the stroke!

Although it had been so difficult to watch and not be able to control the situation for her, we were glad she experienced it because she grew from it. She rose above the challenge and came out on top, not because she won, but because she didn’t quit.

So parents, when we’re tempted to jump in and rescue our kids from all painful situations, remember that allowing them to experience discomfort helps them grow and mature. Guide them through it, have good conversations and remind them that you and Jesus are there for them every step of the way.