I never fully appreciated the “mama bear” instinct until the first time another kid pummeled my child in a Mommy and Me class. I recoiled in horror, immediately labeling the other child a terror and spending the rest of the class trying to keep a sizable physical space between him and my daughter.
Other parents have shared similar stories, some even blaming the other parent for poor parenting. By the time most of us have our second child, we realize that all kids have their moments, including our own, and ease up on the judgment.
But the sting when someone hurts your child never seems to dim. When my kindergartener tells me of kids excluding her during recess, I literally have to bite the inside of my lip to stop myself from saying something. I know it is normal for kids to exclude each other at this age and by tomorrow at recess it will all be forgotten. But in the here and now, my heart is bleeding for my child and seething at the other five year old who made her feel this pain.
It’s tempting to want to protect our children against the pain of life, some might even argue that it is our job as their parents. Others, like Wendy Mogel in The Blessing of a Skinned Knee advocate that “Pain is good. It will help them develop tolerance for the inevitable unfairness and messiness in life.”
So what is a good parent to do? Try to shield our children from hurt or let them experience it in it’s full glory so they get used to it? What do you think?