Do you ever have those times as a parent when you are struggling with whether or not to step in on behalf of your child? You have this feeling that something just isn’t right but can’t quite put your finger on it, or maybe you know what the situation is and know that it is wrong. Do you step in and say something or question what is going on? Do you hang back to see what happens? Do you use it as a lesson to teach your child to handle their own situations by guiding them with what to do? Do you just let it go and allow them to figure it out on their own even if it means heartache or pain? There have been so many situations over the years where I have had this battle of questions in my head. These situations have been incidents with teachers, administrators, classmates/teammates, coaches, and other adults. Early on in my kids’ lives, I felt this overwhelming mama bear instinct and would automatically jump in and try to resolve whatever the issue was. There were times when I really needed to step in and times when I probably should have stayed out of it. As my kids have gotten older, I really try to let them handle as much as they can on their own. However, that mama bear instinct to protect is always there, and it is really hard to hold back sometimes. My husband has to tell me to stay out of it all the time and reminds me that we have to let them figure it out on their own. There really is a fine line between allowing your child to grow up and handle what life throws at them and being a parent that protects their child. I do believe that there are situations when you have to step in. The problem comes with knowing when that is.
I am struggling with one of those situations right now, but it is one of those when I am not sure if there really is an issue or not. I feel like something is off, but I cannot pinpoint what it is nor can my child. She has thrown around the word “hate,” which is not a word we use in this family or one that I have ever heard her say. The difficult part is that she cannot verbalize why she is using that word other than to say it is the feeling she has. At this point, I am just kind of sitting back and trying to let it play out, but I keep having this nagging feeling that I need to get to the bottom of it. It is especially difficult with this child because she struggles with anxiety and change. This particular situation is new and different so it is hard knowing if it is a result of her difficulties with new and different things or if there really is something to be concerned about. Again, it is that fine line of knowing when to let her learn to handle it or stepping in to protect her.
We all know that parenting is the hardest job in the world. We make mistakes. We step in when we shouldn’t and don’t when we should. Some of us are helicopter parents, some of us take a total hands off approach, and some of us fall somewhere in between. We all parent differently, and that is completely ok. We tend to second-guess ourselves all the time, and we are our own worst critics. The one thing that we all do best, though, is love our kids will all our hearts. We want what is best for them and we desire to do right by them. The only advice that I can give is to go with your gut. Do what your gut is telling you to do. That is what I tend to always do. For the most part, when I have truly followed what my gut instinct was telling me, it has been the right decision. Try not to lead with your heart because that mama bear instinct in your heart can lead you down the wrong path. I know that is extremely hard to do, and I struggle with it all the time. Think of it this way… your heart and your gut (for this analogy think of your stomach) are two totally different organs with two different purposes. You need both to survive but for different reasons. One of the main functions of the heart is to protect the body, and one of the main functions of the stomach is to defend. You may be thinking that protecting and defending are the same thing, but they aren’t. To protect means to keep safe, while to defend means to ward off, repel, or guard. Your heart desires to keep your children safe at all costs. Your gut desires to defend your children against whatever negative situation is occurring. Your heart will do whatever it takes to keep them safe while your gut will stand back and determine the best defense. That defense could be to do nothing other than to be on guard, or it could be to investigate or attack. Listen to your gut. It will lead you to the best defense.