Hope is the Function of Struggle

E & JL at the BYU-Idaho Ropes Course - - Meant for Struggle!
Last week was exhausting!  In the transition period with the kids and school (and my own) tensions were high and I felt like I was putting out one fire after the next.  With everything new I wanted to be sure all of my kids were happy.  If they had a complaint, I decided to fight their battles with for them.  I complained about the things that were making my kids sad, emailed a few teachers, and went to bed every night wondering what stress the next day would bring! 

And then my husband made this comment: "It's like everyone expects life to be easy all the time or something."  Well, at first I was offended by this.  I was just helping my kids be successful, wasn't I? No!  I was only enabling them to need me for every little thing.  That is not what I signed up for as a mother.  I told J. I needed to reread I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better so I could remember my vision of raising self-reliant children. 

"We are hard-wired to struggle," says Brene Brown, renowned author and research-storyteller.  "Hope is the function of struggle.  If we want our children to develop high levels of hopefulness, we have to let them struggle (italics added)."


Okay.  So, putting out my children's fires for them leads to a lack of hopefulness on their part?  I'd never thought of it that way!  As our kids learn to speak up for themselves and solve their own problems, they learn to have HOPE!

In a presentation on cognitive brain development of college students we learn, "Desire exists on one hand to learn and on the other to escape from struggle.  Struggle with ambiguous challenges for a time seems  necessary before further development is possible...Moving from one phase to the next is not painless."  So, in order to grow and become better we must have the struggle.  As we persevere through the struggle, we gain hopefulness.  

Here's how the scriptures describe it: 

Mosiah 23:21Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith (emphasis added).

Mosiah 24:15And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord. 

The Lord tests our patience and our faith.  As we struggle through the challenges and look to Him, the Lord will lighten our loads giving us hope that we can "do all things through Christ, which strengthens [us]."

With these thoughts in mind, I will no longer enable my children when they struggle (at least I will try).  Sure, I can give them counsel and advice, I can wrap my arm around them and empathize;  but keeping them from struggle is not my purpose as a mother.  If I want them to have hope and to ultimately be confident in themselves, I've got to let them get bruised.
For some reason this was so much easier when they were littler - - just learning to walk or ride a bike.  


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