“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)
A few months ago my family and I started watching a show on the Discovery Channel titled North America. I absolutely loved the program. The majority of the show focused on different animal groups in their natural habitat and how animals interacted with each other in the wild.
While I was watching a particular group of bison, I was struck by what kind of parents they were. Bison travel in herds and during this particular scene, a pack of wolves attacked. The adult bison surrounded the babies inside a circle while they ran, keeping them protected from their natural enemy.
However, one mother and her baby got separated from the pack and this is when it became interesting. The mother did her best to protect her child from the wolves, but it was three against one. She had strength and size on her side, but not numbers. Finally, after being repeatedly bitten by the wolves, the baby realized he had some strength and kicked one wolf, who let out a cry and fell back. This action caused the baby to gain some confidence and after a few minutes, they were back with the herd, the wolves slinked away, and the baby lived to see another day.
This got me thinking about humans. We parents want to protect our children from all danger. However, as animal parents know better than we do, in order to truly protect our children, we have to give them an opportunity to “kick the wolf.” If I always rescue my children, they’ll never learn the skills needed to function independently of me as grownups. As much as I love my kids, it’s not healthy or normal for them to live with me until I die. My goal as a parent is to teach them how to “kick the wolf” in the right way. It’s not about teaching our children to fight back harder and stronger. It’s more about teaching our children the most effective way to stand up for themselves while still allowing God’s love to shine through.
I realized from watching North America I was not only getting a great lesson about bison, but I was learning how to be a better parent. It’s still hard for me to step back and let my kids get bumps and bruises; however, I realize the more I let them practice their own skills in independence, the better off they’ll be. My job is to stay nearby in case they need help, and we all need help sometimes, but to show them I have confidence in their ability to “kick the wolf” when necessary.
How about you? Have your mastered letting your kids “kick the wolf” or do you need more practice? I’m praying for wisdom for us all as we navigate the gift of parenting together.
© 2013 Cheri Swalwell