"Blessed is she, who has believed, that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." Luke 1:45

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Teaching little birds to fly

When did I become the authority on everything?

As I was on a walk today, I was praying for my son, and I heard a little voice telling me to be quiet sometimes. 

The more I thought about it, the more I realized, I tend, completely on accident, to present myself as the ultimate authority on many things to my son. 

I give him laundry lists of dos, don'ts, shoulds, shouldn'ts, try this, don't try that, be aware of this and don't even think about considering this!

As he enters his teen years, I have been asking myself more, "What decisions, good and bad, are right around the corner for him"? Have I been preparing him to discern for himself how to make the wise choice, or have I crippled him into believing that he needs someone to point out the answer?

Constantly I hear "I know" when I tell him something. I have been annoyed by it, thinking, "No, you don't know, that is why I am telling you." But now I wonder, does he know and I am just not allowing him to express things in his own way? Have I been frustrating him by assuming since he doesn't respond the same way I do that he is unprepared for his stage in life? Am I steamrolling his self-confidence by trying to mother too much?

I had an image of a  Momma bird, wing tucked tight to her body, holding her baby chick tight against herself under the protection of her feathers.The only problem is, if we are that Momma bird, we generally don't pay attention to what happens next. We are happy and content with providing complete shelter for our baby. We don't want to take the next step. But here is what has to happen:

For that Momma bird, as her baby bird grows, she loosens her hold. She watches but doesn't control as he stretches his wings, safe inside the nest. She observes and trains but doesn't stop him as he flaps around, testing his strength. She provides support and nourishes him until that one day. The day that definitely is his day. The day he needs to fly. 

Does she grab him close? Does she tuck him under that wing? 


She watches, and if he takes too long, she nudges, shoos and pushes until he takes off and flies on his own. 

I am in the flapping around, testing his strength phase. If I don't allow him to do things on his own, he won't ever be strong enough when it is his time to fly. 

We have all seen baby birds on the ground. The are flapping around, trying to fly, and there isn't a Momma bird around. 

Or is there?

When we see that baby bird, we wonder why the Momma isn't there helping them, getting them going, keeping the world away until they are ready to try again. (Usually they are close by. We don't see them, but they are almost always there.)

I think that Momma bird knows something we need to remember. For our children to be strong enough to fly solo, they need to be able fall. And when they fall, they have to figure out how to find the strength to get back up and try again. On their own. To try harder, or try something else. Sometimes we need to let them see some of the dangers in our world, because if they try to jump out of the nest and fly without all the training, the practice and the falls, without being aware that threats exist, then they will be totally unprepared to make it against the bigger threats to come.

As a parent, I have to nudge my son toward the real world. If I continue to solve every problem, shield him from every struggle, pain, and consequence, he will be completely unprepared to fly. 

I am not saying we need to throw them over the side with a good luck and good bye, but taking a long, hard look at the concept of over-protecting might be in order. 

I know, I KNOW! We don't want our babies to hurt, to struggle, to have to deal with consequences. It hurts our Momma hearts. But to grow strong, healthy, able adults, we need to allow some of the real world in, a little at a time, under our supervision, while we can still help, guide and train.

As tomorrow is Mother's Day, I am going to do my best to start letting my little bird (who is NOT so little) show me what he can do. I am going to let him stretch his wings a little more often, and I am going to let him see over the edge of that nest. Only five short years until he will be considered an "adult" by the world standards, and definitely by his. That's not much time to train him into all he will need to know to fly. 

Let the nudging begin!

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