Thursday, May 1, 2014
Learning That Comes From Discomfort
There were several ideas I encountered at The Festival of Faith & Writing that warrant deeper thinking. It will probably take me until the end of the summer to get all those posts completed! I'm starting with something that Vinita Hampton Wright said in her writer's workshop: "When we are uncomfortable it's because we are on the verge of learning something, stay with the discomfort."
I've been thinking about this in relationship to parenting my children, especially as they approach their teen years. Adolescence, per definition, is a time of discomfort. A time of learning how to be in this world. Learning how to navigate more complicated peer relationships, and increased academic expectations. And, in today's world, how to navigate social media. How to effectively manage their time and responsibilities.
My daughter, in particular, is currently coming to grips with the fact that life isn't always fun. That it can be boring and repetitious at times. No doubt, I could ease some of the discomfort for her. I could allow her to opt out of band and the required, boring daily practice. I could allow her to avoid a situation that she's finding boring and babyish and at times slightly humiliating. I'll admit there are times I feel like a bad parent for not easing some of this discomfort, for not making her road easier. But dwelling on the idea in that one quote reinforces what I know in my core; in easing her discomfort I would actually be making things harder for her in the long run. I believe just one of the long-term consequences of easing discomfort for our children is that they end up fearful, unsure of their own abilities and place in this world. Basically we take away their chance to fully develop self-esteem and character.
The bottom line is when I take away my children's opportunity to learn, to persevere through the hard stuff, I take away the opportunity for them to grow into the kind of people I want them to be. The kind of people who will be able to handle both life's joys and heartaches.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.