Hatching is Hard

Jun 5, 2014

Hatching chicken eggs with my class as a kindergarten teacher turned out to be good training for raising the children I would have later.  One spring, after most of the chicks successfully hatched, one little fellow seemed to have a hard time. I worried about him like a mother hen. Thinking I could help, I contacted a chicken farmer to ask if I couldn’t give the chick a little assistance.  “No way!” he warned me. He assured me that as chickens struggle to break out of their shells, they gather the strength they need to survive on the outside.  Reluctantly, I resisted my desire to “help.”  And sure enough—a few hours later, that little bruiser made it out all on his own.

I think of that chick when I see parents working to smooth the path for their kids.  Dedicated parents can hardly stand to watch their children struggle, and often intervene to help. Loving parents have to rein in their instincts to always protect their kids from hardship.

I’ve known a number of kids who experienced fairy-tale childhoods with lots of joy and very little struggle.  When they reach adulthood, these kids ultimately face hardship of one kind or another.

One young man told me his parents had a perfect marriage and never showed the kids anything but complete harmony.  The first time he and his wife disagreed, he thought their marriage was over.  He didn’t know that healthy marriages include some discord.

When parents protect children from difficulties, they may founder later when they hit challenges. But if they saw their parents struggle a bit and even faced some hard times of their own, they face trouble with greater resilience.

Kids don’t need easy childhoods to grow up happy.  They need parents who love them and who teach them how to successfully face hardship.  Kids develop grit when their families together face a difficult time with solidarity.

Letting our children experience a few challenges when they’re young gives them practical experience in problem solving and building confident independence.  When kids get the chance to work through their own hatching from the start, they build resources they need to eventually take wing and fly.