One of my daughters, a budding zoologist, came to me with a disturbing question recently.
She had been watching a documentary filmed in Africa. She asked me why the people filming the video didn’t try to help the baby zebras that were going to be eaten by the crocodiles. Ouch.
I tried to explain that if humans get in the way of the natural processes of the wild, we would end up doing more harm than good. I also told her that if she is eventually out in the jungle observing animals, that she too would have to keep herself from intervening. As she is only eight, I was relieved to hear that in this particular video the baby zebras escaped unharmed.
This desire to intervene on behalf of someone struggling is so familiar to me as a mother. Whenever I see my children struggling, my first instinct is to rush in and rescue them. It is almost laughable if I think about what that could have looked like in their lives though. Imagine if I had never allowed them to learn to walk, just in case they might have been hurt as they toddled and fell! I can hardly still pick up my four year old and carry her any distance, much less my grown eighteen year old son!
As difficult as it can be to watch our children fail at something, it can be an invaluable learning experience for them that they couldn’t have gotten any other way. It is also really great if they can learn as much as possible while still at home. We adults know the price of mistakes can be much steeper as grown-ups.
So while my first instinct may be to rush in and save my kids from a struggle or possible fall, I try to give them an opportunity to work things out for themselves first. However, I would probably still rush in and save them from a crocodile!
“All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.” Isaiah 54:13