A man was confined to a hospital bed because of a lingering illness. One day, as he looked upon his windowstill, he noticed a cocoon. He grew excited at the prospect of getting to watch a beautiful butterfly ultimately emerge from it. Sure enough, he didn’t have to wait too long before the butterfly began its struggle to free itself from that cocoon.
But what shocked the man was what a long, hard struggle it was for the butterfly to free itself. The creature worked for hours and hours, but made little progress. Finally, the man decided to help nature along. He took a pair of scissors and leaned over and made the cocoon’s opening larger. This allowed the butterfly to crawl right out.
And that’s all the butterfly ever did: crawl. You see, the intense pressure that is involved with a butterfly emerging from a cocoon is designed to push life-giving juices back into the butterfly’s wings. Without those juices the wings end up deformed and unusable. In the man’s attempt to help the butterfly, he actually ruined it and condemned it to a pitiful existence of crawling around on the ground.
Parent, hear me when I say that you can do this same kind of thing to your child. One of the surest ways to produce a weak, morally challenged, emotional cripple is to always come riding in and save that child’s day. If you are determined that your child will never know trials, troubles, sufferings, and hardships, you are virtually guaranteeing that your child will know such things. Show me a parent who doesn’t understand or agree with the concept of “tough love” and I’ll show you a child who’ll end up the worse for it.
Study the great characters of the Bible, men and women who were God’s choicest servants. Study their lives and you’ll find that their character was forged in excruciatingly difficult experiences, just the kind of experiences that you plan to see to it never befall your child. Just as that butterfly needed to finish that struggle to break free from that cocoon, your child needs those vitally important juices that only the pressures of life can produce. Don’t rob the child of those pressures by taking your scissors and saying, “I’m just going to help out a little.” That “little” can be the ruination of the child.
Let’s say that a son is constantly getting into trouble at school. How should his parents handle that? Let the little delinquent face the music for his transgressions. That will teach him that there are consequences to breaking rules. A few days’ suspension from school might very well save him decades of trouble when he gets older.
Here’s an older daughter who has the bad habit of spending more than she makes. Her bills are behind. Her creditors are clamoring. Her credit is on the brink of ruin. What does she do? She calls up mommy and daddy and asks them to give her the money to fix her mess. And what should they do? If they want to push some fluids back into her wings, they’ll let her reap the sad crop of her out-of-control spending. Such failure and humiliation can be the reality-check she needs to learn to live within her means. Such a lesson is worth the few years it will take for her credit to be restored.
Oh, I sound mean, don’t I? You’re probably thinking, “I’m glad that guy’s not my dad!” Well, I’m not mean, but I am an unabashed proponent of “tough love.” I fully understand the lesson behind that story of the man who tried to help out the butterfly by making its struggle easier. I know the value of letting a difficult season play itself out and accomplish its good. And right now I’m wondering, parent, do you?