The Good and the Bad

From the book The Women at Brewster Place, author Gloria Naylor writes “yea’ know you can’t keep him running away from things that hurt him. Sometimes, you just gotta stay there and teach him how to go through the bad and good of whatever comes.” This coming from a wise older woman giving advice to a young single mom who continuously tried to protect her son from life, not allowing anything to happen if she could.

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This resonated for me as a parent and a therapist working with children and their parents. We as parents have this natural way of protecting our young. As a parent you don’t want your child to hurt, because it is hurtful to us as well. But, sometimes the more protecting you do the more harm can come to the child.

One of my favorite movies is Finding Nemo, the character Dory made me laugh with her antics. Over the past 20 years of periodically watching this movie, the messages that Dory shared have been helpful to motivate those I work with. Connecting to this blog, The Good and The Bad, Dory stated “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him.” When I first saw/heard this, it didn’t mean as much as it did later watching it with my own children. Time and experiences have a way of changing how you view the movies you once watched when you were younger.

Of course we want to protect others from harm, but there is a way to balance the good and the bad. If you live in a bubble for so long you miss opportunities to face adversity, learn, and grow through it. Over the last few years I have talked with parents and friends about how their children may not have been exposed to many things, and  are becoming teens and young adults with little experience of hardship. The concern is that they won’t have the tools and the strength to grow through the difficulties of adulting.

It’s a delicate balance of allowing natural consequences to happen to children so they can identify the hurt, note that they don’t like how it feels, and develop coping skills for regulating those emotions. Allowing the things to happen allows this process to take place. The hope is we can be there to guide them through both the good and the bad of life, as life happens.

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