I have always loved David McNally’s extraordinary story – Even Eagles Need a Push. It is a story that takes you from motivation to inspiration to action. It talks about a mother eagle’s supreme act of love – the push.
When her off springs were ready to leave the nest and fly, the eagle gently coaxed them towards the edge of the nest which was located high on the shelf of a sheer rock face. There was nothing but air to support the wings of each child and she felt their resistance to her persistent nudging. Her heart quivered with conflicting emotions. “Why does the thrill of soaring have to begin with the fear of falling?” she thought. Despite her fears, the mother eagle knew it was time. Her parental mission was all but complete; there remained only one final task – The Push.
A supreme act of love
The mother eagle drew courage from an inborn wisdom – until her children discovered their wings, there was no purpose for their lives. Until they learned how to soar, they would fail to understand the privilege it was to have been born an eagle. The push was the greatest gift she had to offer. And so, one by one she pushed them, and they flew!
As April nears, some of us may have sent a child off to school, whether it is kindergarten, college or any grade in between. For those who have, we know too well that saying goodbye, even if for a short while, can be one of our most difficult moments.
But I believe, that as parents, one of the greatest gifts we can give to our child is the confidence and wisdom to leave home – if only for a day, or to start a life of their own.
What is really important in life?
In today’s fast-paced world it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day routine of sending our child to school, homework, household chores, after school activity classes or sports practices. And these hectic schedules, combined with the pressure to look like ‘parent of the year’ on social media — cause many parents to lose sight of the important life values which need to be inculcated in your child.
How important do you think it is to raise mentally strong kids? To equip children to take on real-world challenges? And do you think that this requires mentally strong parents, who give up unhealthy parenting practices? Practices that are robbing kids of their mental strength?
If you feel as strongly about this as I do, then I suggest we keep in mind certain basic things that we must consciously avoid doing as parents.
Do not accept or allow victim mentality and shield your child from pain
Not being selected in the school football team or being pushed in a school bus doesn’t make the child a victim. Rejection, failure, and unfairness are all a part of life and we owe it to our children to help them deal with this. Rather than allowing kids to host pity parties to exaggerate their misfortunes, we must encourage them to turn their struggles into their strength.
It sure is tough to watch kids struggle with wounds or sad feelings. But it is important that they have first-hand experience of disappointments and practice discomfort. It is only then they can gain confidence in their ability to deal with whatever hardships life throws their way.
Parents must act like guides not body guards
Keeping the child inside a protective bubble may help keeping him/ her away from fear and anxiety. Do not allow fear to dictate your child’s choices; keeping kids too safe stunts their development. Allow them to go out into the world and experience life, even though it may seem scary to let go.
Do not prevent your child from making mistakes, after all mistakes can be life’s greatest teacher. Whether your child gets a few answers wrong or forgets to pack his tiffin box or messes up, allow him/her to face the natural consequences of his / her their actions. Don’t let your child avoid responsibility.
You won’t catch a mentally strong parent saying things like, “I don’t want to burden my kids with chores. Kids should just be kids.” Mentally strong parents assign age-appropriate duties to their children, and teach them to pitch in and learn the skills they need to become responsible adults.
Give your child the push
Watching kids struggle, pushing them to face their fears, and holding them accountable for their mistakes is tough. But those are the types of experiences kids need to reach their greatest potential.
Strong parents know their values, and they ensure that their family lives according to them. Despite their fears, they know when it is time to let go. They draw courage from the same inborn wisdom – until our children learn how to soar, they would fail to understand their privilege and purpose.
The Push! It can be the greatest gift you can ever give – your supreme act of love as a parent. It will change a life forever.
Sometimes we need it.
Sometimes we need to give it.