I explained to her my firm belief that a parent needs to give her children boundaries, then let them have freedom inside of those boundaries. Freedom within limits is the best way for them to learn independence, problem solving skills, natural consequences, confidence, and trust.
Because our family has worked on this their entire lives, the boys and I were able to have a day like today.
We spent five hours at McCormick's Creek State Park today. (Buttercup is on her way back from Florida, where she has been living large with a friend's family.) You know you're going to have a good time when you find a sign like this on your first hiking trail.
I gave the older boys some freedom to explore while I stayed with the little guys.
I'm not saying that it is easy for me to watch my babies walk along a cliff so they can explore the opening to a cave. But it is not about me. It is about them learning to be careful but confident. To learn independence, even while being relieved to know that I am watching their every move.
Funny thing is, even though they were allowed to explore, they kept coming back to help their little brothers learn some independence and confidence, too. And, of course, to have some plain, old, silly fun.
The little boys had some fun walking in their boots through the water
while the big boys explored around the falls.
But when you're in a creek, the time always comes when you just need to take the shoes off and let your feet feel the squishy creek bottom.
It was wonderful to watch those big boys come and take the hands of the little ones. To lead them and help them. To show them the ropes. Without a word from me.
There was a lot of hand-holding today.
When given some freedom, there will inevitably be some scrapes and some missteps.
But those are times when children can learn to figure things out for themselves. To get themselves out of the predicaments they've gotten themselves into. Say, perhaps, walking into water deeper than their boots.
Of course, the climb will be easier when the child knows there will be some love, cheers and TLC at the top of those mountains.
I just can't stand the thought that Phoenix is closing in on 14. The years just aren't long enough.
But I have to take solace in the fact that he is a good kid. He finds joy inside the boundaries set by those in authority. I pray that he always does. Because isn't that what we all should do throughout our lives?
God has given us some clear and set boundaries.
And when we find joy inside of those boundaries, unlimited love, cheers, and TLC will be waiting for us.
Have a lovely, joy-filled day!