Friday, March 18, 2016

Why I Don't Want My Kids to Have an Easy Life

As a parent, I often fight the urge to smooth the road for my children. It's hard to watch them struggle, to feel pain and frustration, without wanting to swoop in and save them. I have this inner gut-instinct that wants them to have an easy happy life.

Perhaps it is because I have struggled. There have been dark places in my life that I would rather my children not experience, conflicts that I would rather they not have to fight through, misery I would rather they not feel. Parents are supposed to want their children to have a better life than the one they experienced. And it's true that I want them to have an easier life than the one I have had.

But an easy life doesn't create the kind of people I want my children to be.

It is the struggle, the effort, and the problems overcome, that build character. They are the bricks stacked one on top of the other creating the qualities of responsibility, commitment, empathy, loyalty, fortitude, and strength. There is no shortcut to these qualities. They have to be fought for. They can't be given to you. They have to be earned. People grow because of adversity. It's like fertilizer. (Remember that the next time you're going through some shit.)

An easy life is a mediocre life and only creates mediocre people. I want my children to experience the awesome, the wonderful, the amazing. Have you ever seen the view from a mountaintop? The view is breathtaking, but it takes a lot of effort to get there. Spending all day sweating, muscles aching, breathing heavy to get there, makes the scenery even more spectacular. But mountaintop views are anything but mediocre, and average people rarely make the hike to get there. They don't like the effort it takes to make it.

"Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations." ~Author Unknown

Normal and easy and simple is rarely beautiful. That is true in love, in art, in food, in music... in life!

So, I fight the urge to save my children from adversity, to make things easy, to hand them what they want. They must work hard, feel disappointment and sadness, tackle the things that stand in their way. They must hustle and sweat and delay gratification. They have to feel uncomfortable, stretch their own limits, work for what they want, fight their own battles. So they can be spectacular people. So they can live extraordinary lives. Extraordinary lives aren't just handed to anyone. Last time I checked, they weren't handing those out at the library or the local Wal-mart or the street corner downtown. Extraordinary lives are earned, they are built brick by brick, through hard work and perseverance.

They have to experience all of that to become the kind of people who climb mountains.

And the view from up here is spectacular.

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