Don’t Baby Them


“A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.

Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. Then the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily.

But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened!

In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life.  If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. And we could never fly.”


I got this in an email forward, years ago.  It’s simple, yet profoundly important in relation to helping 10-14 year olds in their struggle in the chrysalis of adolescence.

Too often adults expect too little of the kids in their care.  Adults can cripple kids by solving every problem for them or by removing every painful thorn in their path.  It’s best not to baby them too much.  They need to stretch and writhe in solving their own problems in order to grow up strong enough to solve much bigger problems later in life.

You may not be fully aware of the little ways in which you baby the kids in your care.  Teachers can baby their students by not expecting them to spell properly in their essays or allowing them to turn assignments in late without penalty.  Coaches can baby their players by letting the kids play games ALL the time, rather than using drills to teach and condition.  Parents can baby their children by bringing to school the lunch and homework they forgot again.  Scout leaders can baby their scouts by not expecting them to clean up, pack up, and hike hard on their weekend camping trip.  A tutor can baby her student by doing his homework for him, just this once.

There are so many ways in which we bail our kids out of trouble, rather than guiding them through their trouble.  We must avoid that path of least resistance.  In fact, we need to train our kids to solve their own problems, feel the pain of their own consequences, and struggle to overcome their own cocoons. It’s for their own good.  Otherwise, they’ll never grow up well.  They’ll be crippled in one way or another, unable to overcome life’s really harsh struggles, which will indeed come.

Will our kids be ready?  If so, it’s because they were allowed to grow strong through their struggles.

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