Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Allowing our Children to Experience Discomfort

We are a comfortable people these days aren't we?  I was thinking about that this morning on my walk with the children.  One was complaining nearly the entire walk.  "It's hot" (only about 80 degrees) was a major complaint, as well as "I'm tired" over, and over.  I was really starting to get annoyed with all of the complaining.  It was a beautiful morning, yes it was warm but that was much cooler than typical for this time of year.  We also haven't got to walk for a while due to so much rain lately.  I kept thinking how unhappy my child would be if it was a more normal temp.  I thought back to being in school in 100 degree classrooms and having to concentrate on World History exams.  I realized, my children wouldn't know what to think about that kind of heat.  They haven't had much occasion to get so hot for longer than a couple hours playing.  They have always had a cool bedroom to sleep in the summer, and a warm cozy bed in the winter.

All this went through my mind in a flash and it was just a minor slice of the day.  Children are still learning.  I don't expect perfection.  However, suddenly it dawned on me as a general thing, my child really was not very used to being uncomfortable.  I am not talking about times of discipline or punishments.  I just mean, in a general physical since of life.

Even those of use with lesser amount of cash, here in our western world, we live very comfortable.  We are often in air conditioning, be it home or vehicles. At very least most of us have fans to keep cool by. We have indoor plumbing and electricity. 

In the winter we have warmth and plenty of clothing.  We have shoes, often many pairs.  Most of us have cozy nice homes, apartments, or places to stay. We have shelter from storms.

Most of us rarely experience true hunger, often we have very full bellies.  Most of us have the ability to keep entertained in so many ways it is overwhelming.  Compared to that of the past, or other cultures and countries, we have really plush lives.  Many of us know this.  Some might argue the point, at least in some cases.  In general though, I think most of us would agree, we are quite comfortable.

Is this a good thing?  It is certainly what my flesh wants.  If you really think about it, when learn so much in times of discomfort.  It makes us appreciate the comforts we do have. 

We who are believers usually understand that it can take someone to be brought low, to really look up and find God.  However, right now though, I am actually talking about the "little things".  Is it good to always pamper our children?  Is it good to always be seeing to their every perfect comfort?  I mean if they hardly ever so much as break a sweat, is that not a disservice? 

Of course we must keep them safe.  Of course we want them well nourished.  Of course we want them to be happy.  We want them to experience just being children.  A "carefree" childhood is often idealized. 

However, I am thinking that much character is built is letting your children have times of discomfort.  For example, many realize it is important to teach chores for a good work ethic.  Much is learned in this.  But shouldn't we be watchful that we don't 'over serve' our children in other areas.  Do they complain or whine every time you don't immediately get them a drink to quence their thirst.  Perhaps you delayed dinner later than usual for some reason.  Will that generate rounds of children acting like they are going to starve to death?  Will turning the air conditioning off makes them fuss until it is on?  Will not having the exact blanket because it happens to be dirty create crying until it is returned?  Will not having the perfect cup throw them into a fit?  Basically are we "spoiling" our children?  I am not saying a child can't have a favorite blanky or toy.  I am just saying we need to be watchful overall of creating and expectation that every whim will be met.

 Don't always be so quick to step in an resolve their every complaint and displeasure.  As Mama's it is our inclination to care for them.  However, in our caring for them, we need to be cautious not to cater to them.  I think there is a difference.  I think I have crossed that line unintentionally in some things. 

I resolve to do better.  I want my children to have a very blessed home and childhood, but I want them to have good character even moreso.  I want them to be able to withstand hard times should they come in life.  As believers in Christ, they are almost sure to come at some point.  May we all prepare our children in the big things, and even in the small things.  Perhaps a little discomfort isn't such a bad thing if it builds strength of character.


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