I recently sat in a room full of middle school parents as
we learned of an impending field trip scheduled for our twelve
and thirteen year olds. Information was shared that they would
be traveling to a site where they would experience a 24-hour
simulation of various global and rural cultures. Each simulation
would include a level of hunger and poverty. As the plans were
revealed, there was squirming and a level of discomfort in the
room, and then one mom raised her hand. “I guess we are all
a little uncomfortable with the idea of our children being
uncomfortable, but it will be good for them. Right?”
Looking at the big picture, we all can agree on some
level with the statement made by the slightly unsure middle
school mom, though we rarely choose the uncomfortable for
ourselves or for our kids. But if we live long enough, life will
happen and pain and suffering will roll into our families.
Beloved grandparents and pets die. People we love get sick.
Challenging friendships and hurtful words come along. And
sometimes life changing tragedies visit those we love most.
In the childhood ditty “going on a bear hunt,” there is
wisdom. “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, gotta go through
it.” Our children will experience heartache, heartbreak, and
many different facets of pain and suffering. There is no
sensible way to shelter them from much of this reality. I have
learned that rather than try to keep them in a protective bubble,
it is best to come alongside, give honor and space to their pain
and suffering, and walk right through it together. They need
guidance, a safe place to express any and all feelings, and to
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