Dr. Rich Patterson

Learning to Fly

Birds learn to fly on the ground.  It isn’t as if they jump from the nest one day and make it to the nearest branch.  For the most part, they fall to the ground, where they struggle to get themselves airborne once again.  This analogy applies to our kids as well.  They learn what they need to learn, by being on the ground so to speak.  By getting dirty, by encountering difficult circumstances and making a decision, by doing things that don’t work.  This is how they get better and better as they work through their life to graduation.

As parents, when we don’t allow our kids to find some things out for themselves, unless they are a danger to the child, we deny them a chance to learn how to fly on their own.  I have worked with parents who answer all questions for their kids, not allowing the child to say what they wish in any way.  This can apply to failing a class.  If a student is struggling in a class, phone calls have been made to the teacher and school administrator, conferences have been held with the school counselor and school administrator.  Ideas for success have been shared with the child, but nothing.  There is no movement toward making a change.  Failure is also an option.  If they fail the class and have to take it again, they are learning how to fly on the ground.  Sometimes, and at a last resort, this is an option.

When our kids sort through their decisions and we offer guidance, that is all fine and good.  But in the end, allow them to make the decision without your input as a parent.  Let them try some of their ideas and then talk with them about it afterwards.  Questions like, “What would you do differently?  What questions should you have asked?  What assumptions did you make?  How can you learn from this and apply it in the future?”  If birds learn to fly on the ground, then focus on the good energy around that, help them to apply their best thinking.  One day when you’re not there to help them make an important decision, you’ll be glad you gave them room when they were younger to make good decisions, and they will.

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