472. Being Resilient

Some people emphasize children’s ability to survive disappointment, abuse, neglect, and disaster, and to bounce back. Some say children end up stronger because of the hard times they go through – that they’re more ready for the raw deals life will offer them later on. I think there’s some truth to that, but I was a relatively lucky child – one who had food,
shelter, clothing, and love – and I think enjoying my childhood prepared me for hard times. When things go wrong for me, I consider those things exceptions to the pattern of my life. I get through hard times knowing that things will get better. And from my point of view, they usually do.
Of course most children are resilient. Almost everyone is. Life is full of choices, and many of those choices involve deciding whether to give up or keep
trying. And it’s not always easy to tell the two apart. Even if you do give up on one of your projects, you’re probably not going to just sit there for the rest of your life. That can get horribly boring. Probably,
eventually you’ll get around to trying something else. And that can make you look and be resilient.
Enjoying childhood is not a sin for which people later pay. We don’t owe it to our children to make sure they suffer, so that they’ll get strong enough to endure any suffering that will happen later on. It’s very natural to try new things, and its natural to fail at some of those things, and to suffer disappointment. That suffering does build character, but so does success, and the good feelings that come with it. And I don’t think there’s much danger that children will succeed so much that they won’t be ready for failure when it happens.
What I’m saying is that children’s resilience should not be used as a justification for actions and decisions that make their lives harder. Most of us don’t try to build our own character by intentionally making our own lives more difficult. Quite the opposite; we do what we can to make our lives easier. True, we may eat foods we don’t prefer because they’re healthful. And we may exercise when we’d rather be doing something we consider more fun. But we don’t do that in order to suffer. And those of us who don’t like dieting or exercising would love it if we could stay healthy by doing things we’d rather do.
Children will sometimes fail. Sometimes, what they want most wont happen, and sometimes, what they want least will. Most of the time, they’ll bounce back from those experiences. After all, we’ve made it to adulthood, with varying amounts of difficulty. But I, for one, think success, joy, and the other good things of life did more to build my character than adversity did. I’m not proud of my scars. I’m not ashamed of them, either, but if life had been even kinder to me, I wouldn’t have complained. And I think we ought to be working to make children’s lives more pleasant.

Comments are closed.