Home March 2014 Teach Them to Squeeze a Lemon

Teach Them to Squeeze a Lemon

If adversity is inevitable, why is it so hard for us as parents to allow our children to experience even the smallest amount of pain and discomfort? Not only do we want them to avoid stumbling; we actually take the stumbling blocks away.
Dealing with difficulties such as academics, friendship and sports are all part of life. When we run to protect our children, we are not allowing them to develop the important set of grit and perseverance muscles that they will need to use throughout their life.
What will THEY learn if we protect them from conflicts with classmates instead of teaching them how to resolve conflicts? What will THEY learn if we tell the teacher that our children should not lose free time in school if they did not finish their work? What will THEY learn if we scream at the coach to give our child more play time on the court?
There are many things that prey on our fears as parents, such as the difficulty in getting into college, the sluggish economy where new jobs are scarce and the rise in all types of school violence. All of these seem to inspire hovering behaviors, and helicopter-type parenting. And has not only continued… it seems to be getting worse. Just at this time in our society when we and our children need to face these current realities that actually require more grit, competiveness, independence and creative problem solving, we seem to be coddling our children even more.
As a parent of two grown children, I have often experienced and still do the conflicting desires to do both: push them out of the nest with a thump and create a safety net for them to fall into. As an educator, I see parents struggling with this dilemma on a daily basis.
I wish us all the courage to allow our children to struggle with adversity as early as possible. In other words, our kids can’t make lemonade if they do not know how to squeeze a lemon.   ✿

Eve Fein is the mother of two sons Aryeh and Perry. She and her husband live in Trabuco Canyon. Eve is the Co-founder and Co-executive Director of Community Roots Academy, a project-based learning elementary charter school.

Here are some great books to help address relevant parenting issues.

The Blessing of
the Skinned Knee
Wendy Mogel, Ph.D.
How Children Succeed –
The Hidden Power of Grit
Curiosity and Character
Paul Tough
David and Goliath –
Underdogs, Misfits and the
Art of Battling Giants
Malcolm Gladwell


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