Let The Butterfly Struggle

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (794.1)

A young mother was fascinated but concerned as she
watched a butterfly struggling mightily to escape
through the small opening at the top of its cocoon. And
when the creature seemed to give up, overwhelmed by the task, she felt sure that it wouldn’t make it without
help. So she enlarged the hole.
The grateful butterfly wriggled out. Unfortunately, its
wings were shriveled and useless. The well-intentioned
intervention interrupted a natural process. Forcing the
butterfly to squeeze though a small opening is nature’s
way of assuring that blood from the creature’s body is
pushed into the wings. The butterfly escaped the
cocoon, but without strong wings, it could never be
free.
Childhood, too, is a sort of cocoon. If a healthy adult
is to emerge, there must be some struggle.
One of the hardest things for loving parents is to know
when to let kids work their own way out of the rough
patches in life. Of course we should always be
supportive and demonstrate caring, and we should look
for opportunities to give them strategies and tools to
deal with their problems. But if we are overprotective,
they will not struggle enough, and without some
struggle, they may not develop the strength and
confidence they will someday need.
Children must be allowed to learn from their mistakes
and pay the price for their own bad judgments. Parents
who buy their kids everything they want and always bail
them out of trouble do them no favors. In fact, they
may be preventing them from growing the strong wings
they need.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2013 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation’s
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.

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