Some days a parent's heart hurts because he or she can't solve everything. I'm starting to have more and more of those days.
My boys are off on their own more now. School is six hours a day which means they have to navigate a classroom with I believe 19 other kids lunch in a cafeteria, recess, art class, music class, free play and more. We recently went to two birthday parties and their worlds are becoming more complex.
When I hear that a child wouldn't play hide and seek with Jeff or someone bumped Aaron on the playground and my child wonders why that happened it hurts me. I want to rush to their aid. I tell Jeff that he can find another friend and I let Aaron know that some kids don't know better, but their world getting rocked a little is something I can't totally fix. They need to find their own friends. They need to stand up for themselves a little. They need to join the right crowd. As parents we may guide our children towards certain goals or away from other goals, but the truth is that they are the ones leading.
I have tried to raise empathic, caring, sweet boys and some days I wonder if a little more assertiveness wouldn't hurt so much. There are times in this world where you do have to claw your way to the top, but there are times when I believe compassion for others is really the ultimate skill. In this day and age our children are supposed to be independent, but watched 24/7. They must be academically pushed but also left alone to be a kid and play. Children must be learning about technology because that's our future but not have too much screen time. When a child shows an interest in something we are supposed to encourage that but then, if a child wants to quit, we shouldn't encourage quitting but at the same time we shouldn't force them to do something they hate. Parenting is a constant balancing act where too little of something can be just as bad as too much of something.
So as my boys struggle to figure out how to make friends I know there is a delicate balance between me wanting to be their friend and me allowing them to fail on their own. Parenthood is hard. I see what people mean when they say the problems become more complex. It's no longer about how many cookies the boys can have (although I believe there will always be struggles with cookies) but about hurt feelings, social relationships, gender roles, and more.
Wish me luck. As my former teacher once said, "Life is like a roller coaster and you just have to ride it until the end. There's no getting off until the ride comes to a complete stop."