Tough love teaches life lessons

October 11, 2013 chris
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

I sat on the steps of my front porch talking to my pastor. Behind us, my son D.J. (who was a toddler at the time) was trying to open the screen door.
    I pretended not to notice, because I wanted to see how resourceful D.J. would be. Apparently having a harder time watching my son struggle, my pastor got up and headed for the door.
    I stopped my pastor before he completed the needed steps to come to my D.J.’s aide. I explained my reasoning for not providing my son any assistance.
    My pastor reluctantly returned and took a seat beside me. We watched as D.J stood on his tiptoes. His little fingers barely touched the handle.
    D.J. grew weary of reaching and started to look around. He noticed a square block and dragged it over just to the left of the screen door. Once this job was done, D.J. stood on the block and again reached for the handle. He was closer this time but not close enough.
    D.J. got down from the block and took off a shoe. A smile started to form on my face. I don’t know what my pastor thought, but perhaps he too was impressed with where this situation could go.
    D.J. climbed back onto the block with shoe in hand. He used the shoe to cover the remaining distance and depressed the handle with the shoe’s heel. The screen door gave, and D.J. caught it with his free hand. Before we knew it, he was inside the house.
    “See, I told you so,” I said to my pastor. “If we had done it for him, he never would have used his brain to solve that problem. I want him to learn to think for himself.”
    My pastor may not have agreed with my methods, but I believe he agreed with the results.
    I don’t like codependency. If animals can train or teach their young, how much more should we humans? Even though it was only a small lesson, it is my hope that many such cumulative lessons will produce a young man who knows how to work and think for himself.
    I am convinced that every obstacle that is endured or hardship faced settles like sedimentary rocks into a person’s soul. It builds faith, character and intestinal fortitude. I am persuaded that one cannot give a person self esteem; it must be earned. Too much prolonged help eventually serves as a crutch that undermines determination and self-reliance. If we continue on that path, we do our children a disservice. Girls will never become women and boys will never become men. The gap between the haves and have-nots will widen, and in the end, such people will end up blaming others for their failures instead of being personally accountable. Some call it tough love. I just call it life.
    I am reminded of the lyrics from a Billie Holiday song – “Mama may have, papa may have, but God bless the child who got his own.” Our children never can achieve their own success if they aren’t equipped with the mindset it takes for success.
    The Bible states, “No man builds a house unless he first sits down and counts up the cost.”
    James Brown said it best – “I don’t want nobody giving me nothing, just open up the door, I’ll get it myself.”