My wife, Kristen, and I have the pleasure of working in some capacity with over 400 students each week. She is a teacher at a public high school, and I am the principal at St. Paul Lutheran School. We have the opportunity to meet many wonderful students and their parents. The students and parents that truly inspire us are those that have overcome challenges.
Kristen and I are the parents of four children ranging in grades from high school senior boy to first grade girl. We are trying to use every parenting tool at our disposal to effectively raise our kids, who each come with their own strengths, weaknesses, blessings, and challenges. Dr. Tim Elmore’s book 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid challenged me to take a close look at how I am raising my children, and the environment I help create as leader at St. Paul Lutheran School. As a parent of over 17 years, I’ll admit that I’ve made each of the 12 mistakes. Thankfully, God’s grace and forgiveness covers that and my children are doing just fine.
One of Dr. Elmore’s points stands out for me. Mistake 7: We won’t let them struggle or fight. Stepping in too soon or helping too much actually hinders a child’s growth.“ When we eliminate challenges and difficulties from their lives, kids are conditioned to give up easily without trying.” As parents it’s our job to teach our children how to do things for themselves. Experience, struggle, and failure are part of that learning process. For my wife and I, that’s as simple as not tying shoes for our youngest child. It’s as complicated as encouraging our high schooler to apply for college on his own. A phrase that has become popular in our house is, “You can figure it out”. It’s not said in a demeaning or negative way, but it’s a phrase that is meant to give hope and encouragement. Do my children always appreciate that phrase? Absolutely not! They would much rather have their parents do it for them. Kristen and I believe that in the long run, our children will be stronger and better equipped to face future challenges.
I watch the educators at St. Paul challenge students with new concepts, skills, and ideas. It takes a wise teacher to know when to step in and when to step back and let that child’s brain or body struggle and overcome the challenge. SPLS educators are masters at this art. For teachers, there is great joy in watching the face of a student who finally overcomes. The lightbulb goes on, a big smile covers the student’s face, and the child takes in a big breath of confidence. The student struggled, fought, and overcame. It’s the beauty of education.
12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid by Dr. Tim Elmore