Written on November 2, 2017

The World Series is over, and the Houston Astros are enjoying their new status as the world champions. No wonder the Mariners only won 5 out of 19 games playing the Astros this year. While their victory is the final story of this World Series, the tenacity demonstrated by both the Astros and the Dodgers was the narrative before the last game.

Players in the major leagues endure a long path filled with obstacles, and there are many athletes just as talented that do not get the same opportunity. The road for most baseball players is to play for teams in their hometown while growing up, then compete at the college level (though some jump right to the pros), get drafted by a professional team, and work their way up through the four levels of the minor leagues. At every level, it is like starting all over because the competition jumps and players either get better or they get moved back down. The thing to remember is that all ballplayers at each level are talented so an individual could get discouraged and quit at any point. Those that succeed are not necessarily the most talented; they may just have the most resiliency.

An important task for parents is to build resiliency (popularly called grit) into their children. The only way to encourage this kind of tenacity is to allow children to face struggles and work their way through them. Parents need to ensure that their children experience their love through kind words of affection and constant encouragement. However, love does not mean rescuing them when they face difficulty; love is the opposite. How did those ballplayers develop such resilience? Not through their parents complaining about their coaches. At some time in their career, most of these players faced discrimination, were overlooked, were treated unfairly, yet they did not let these obstacles deter them.

In some ways, this skill goes against our instincts as parents since we want to protect our children from facing pain or hardship, not encourage it. Our era has created the term helicopter parents, and I recently heard some changing it to velcro parents, because parents see it as their job as a protector to be there with their children all the time. This is a false idea that serves to harm children rather than helping them. A good illustration of this comes from the forest. Trees that grow tightly together never face the full fury of storms unless the trees are thinned. Should all the surrounding trees be removed, those that were protected quickly blow over when high winds come. Contrast this with the tall campus tree that stands between the administration building and the Activity Center. Without protection, it has stood firm through decades of violent storms and it has only grown more resilient by them. It may blow down, but it will take a very strong wind to do it.

Parents, please allow your children to work through difficulties. I urge you not to harm them with a false idea of love. To correctly understand love, you might spend some time meditating on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 which rightly shows love to be a verb, not a feeling. It says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” It is not easy to “bear all things,” but that is what builds the resilience our children need.