It was hard work transitioning Cal to preschool this past Fall. It’s such a lovely little play school. The teachers are gently and kind, the room is full of fun toys and he gets to play with water, play dough, sand, dirt — everything a kid could want. But he cried and clung to me and didn’t want to let me drop him off and leave.
This was not one of the parts of parenting I had given much thought to. My heart felt like it was breaking watching him sob and cling to me. It hurt me so much — I would sit at my desk at work with my stomach in knots asking myself if I am doing the right thing.
My husband and I like to consider ourselves VERY loving and emotionally supportive parents. We don’t believe in raising our son to “toughen up and hold back his tears.” I think society needs men who are more in touch with their emotional selves. We allow our son to fully express his emotions and try not to curb or judge them — we just let them be and acknowledge them. We have a few firm boundaries, but in general a lot of lenience. We don’t usually put hard lines in the sand around behavior — it’s more about cultivating his heart rather than his behavior.
The way I was raised ignored the heart and focused more on curbing behavior — so someone looking in would see a perfect “cookie cutter” well behaved child. It amounted to so much emotional and inward grief for my siblings and I. My husband’s upbringing also had it’s drawbacks but they were different. (Sorry mom, or any other family reading this!)
WHERE’D YOU GET THAT?
As new parents we wanted to do a better job. Don’t we all? But I know it will be our challenge as parents not to error in the other direction. To be so loving and lenient that we actually stunt our child’s ability to be streched and grow beyond their comfort zone.
Our son is already growing up in a world were he doesn’t know a single “need” not met and very few “wants” are not met either. He has the world at his finger tips — which is wonderful and a gift. But as parents we need to be careful not to ease away his pain too quickly. There are few opportunities in his life that actually allow him the growth challenge to learn to process his pain, emotionally regulate, and become more sure of himself in the process. He needs a little push out of the nest. A drop off with lovely and kind teachers, and happy and well adjusted kids, in a safe and supportive environment, will allow him to grow. We, as parents, need to step aside and let him work through this pain to come through the other side and appreciate all the benefits of this little school.
Thinking about this and how much I love my son but also how much I want him to grow up strong, well adjusted and emotionally mature helps me see the way God must feel about us. He probably is just as pained to see us have to go through hard times yet he knows he must allow it and not intervene so we can reep all the benefits. So we can grow stronger, more well adjusted and emotionally mature.
We can learn so much from our Father God’s example.
P.S. Cal just loves going to pre-school now, and I’m so glad we stuck it out. 🙂