Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Through a book club at my church/kids' preschool, I am currently reading a book called Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas. In the second chapter, Thomas talks about the way parents of today are afraid to let their children fail - afraid to let them experience pain.

One example he gives is that some school districts in New York, Texas, Utah, and Virginia have outlawed dodgeball because of the fact that it has clear winners and losers - if you get hit, you lose. Some people fear this can damage a child's self-esteem.

Well, here are my thoughts on this:

Seriously?!?! Dodgeball damages self-esteem??? I can vividly remember playing kickball during P.E. in the gym at Happy Valley Elementary School. I kicked the ball and ran toward first base. The boy who caught the ball threw it at me. It hit my feet. I tripped and slid on my knees across the floor. I had two bloody knees, but I do not recall feeling as if my self esteem had been damaged. On the contrary, it gave the boy who hit me and unintentionally made me fall the opportunity to show some character and practice sportsmanship when he came over to apologize. It gave my classmates the opportunity to show compassion as they helped me up and got some wet towels to wash my knees. What did I learn??? I learned to kick the ball AWAY from the guy with the best arm and to keep my eyes on the ball, even when I was running the bases!

As parents, it is our job to protect our children. However, it is also our job to teach them and train them to be successful adults. How can they appreciate that success if they have never tasted failure??? And when failure and disappointment do happen - because you know they WILL happen - how will they deal with it???

If you have a son who is a talented athlete, but little league doesn't keep score so that nobody loses, how will he feel when he plays for the team in high school? college? or the pros??? No team ALWAYS wins!!!

Got daughters??? There is a show on TLC called "Say Yes to the Dress" where brides-to-be go to a fancy bridal boutique in New York City to pick their wedding gown. If your daughter has never been told no, but then finds the dress and it just happens to cost $25,000 - what then???

And what about the disappointments we cannot avoid??? My girls lost their great grandmother last week. I cannot control that. I cannot shelter them from that either. I can tell them as gently as possible. I can answer their questions to the best of my ability. I can hold them and hug them and cry with them. I can't experience that for them, though. They have to go through it and feel it and, hopefully, learn from it.

Some parents may feel that exposing children to failure, pain, and disappointment is bad parenting. I, however, would argue the opposite - bad parenting would be not allowing your children the opportunity to develop the internal mechanisms to cope with the failure, pain, and disappointment they will inevitably go through in their lives; and sometimes, experience is the best teacher.

No parent wants to see his/her child suffer. Telling my children about their great grandmother's death is one of the hardest things I have had to do as a parent so far. I am not suggesting that children's lives should be miserable and full of hurt. However, some hurts and failures are unavoidable and, by sheltering our children completely, by manipulating their worlds to ridiculous extremes (like outlawing dodgeball), we do them a disservice in the long run.

I will leave you with these two nuggets of wisdom:

"Sunshine without rain is the recipe for a desert." - Arab Proverb

"Without rain there would be no rainbows." - Lisa Witherspoon-ism

Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go play dodgeball with my kids!! :)


Kristen said...

Hello from TSP! Great post! I ♥'d dodgeball! I think the importance is to be a team player and a good sport. I was incredibly competitive during sports, but if I knew that I did my best, that was what mattered. There will always be a winner and loser. Going home and smiling at your accomplishment at the end of the day is what matters and will make you feel good.

Unknown said...

Enjoyed surfing your blog today from TSP!

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