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Unconditional love can trump lack of adversity

A lot of people subscribe to the theory that you shouldn't pick up a crying baby, that they need to learn to comfort themselves. While that sounds OK in principle, when my kids were little and they cried, I always picked them up or embraced them.

In fact, I still do ... that is, if they'll let me.

Good mother or bad mother, the maternal instinct was too strong, and if there was a way to make them feel better, I did it.

Now that they're older, of course we still want them to be happy, and our hearts break for them when they're sad. When my girls left for college, my greatest fear was that they would be suffering and not tell me.

I'm no Kerry Washington, but I AM a Fixer. (ABC "Scandal" reference, in case you don't know).

Despite this urge to be there for my children, now suddenly it's vitally important for me to know they CAN comfort themselves. I need to know they can handle the curve balls that life is guaranteed to throw their way.

When they first leave, you always wonder if you've prepared them for what lies ahead. Those kids who generally got what they wanted, who faced little hardship, are they tough enough to excel in today's world? After all these years of giving them everything, do they now know how to identify, find and take what they need?

We all know that adversity strengthens character, but does that mean we're bad parents for not creating adversity in a life that is, after all, pretty dang good? Still, any teenager emerging from high school will claim to have experienced adversity, and probably rightfully so. Goodness knows that somehow we parents have done our part to screw them up in some shape or fashion.

Yes, they'll tell you they've had adversity. But we all know there is more to come.

It's possible this young generation is in for a rude awakening somewhere along the way. That the "everyone's a winner" mentality could come crashing down on them when they finally figure out someone's gotta lose, and it might be them.

But the human spirit is strong and resilient, and despite how we may have sheltered them, I'm thinking they'll be OK. Just like the rest of us, when the time comes and they have to look inward and tap into that strength, surely they'll find it. When they get knocked down, really the only thing to do is to get back up again.

If I had to do it all over again, I'm not sure I'd do it any differently. Well, maybe a thing or two, but I'd still pick those kids up when they cry. These kids  all of them  are beautiful, flawed, hopeful young adults with the world ahead of them, despite the madness their parents subjected them to.

What they have in a lack of adversity is made up for in the unconditional love they knew would always be there. That's got to count for something.

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