Remembering the Importance of Grit and Resilience through This Story
The Importance of Grit and Resilience
I first read The Butterfly Story when it was given to us during our counsellor training. In this context, the message was to be patient and honour the soul’s psyche, not try to rush the process to achieve a quick, end product.
Now as a parent and as a counsellor who supports many families, I see this story as highlighting the importance of grit and resilience.
It’s hard to see our children struggle.
It’s tempting to want to rescue our children.
It’s easier to believe there’s a quick fix vs. a journey of struggle.
However, as this story shares, it is often through the struggles that we grow the most. This is when we develop inner strength and grit.
Our Parenting Culture
Our parenting culture has changed a lot from previous generations. At one end of the pendulum, parenting was focussed on “be tough” “toughen up” and have grit. However, there was often a lot of fear involved with this style of parenting and not necessarily a close parent-child attachment.
Nowadays, there is a lot of focus on developing a close parent-child relationship, which I agree is an essential ingredient to parenting. If we want to have influence in our child’s lives, we need to be open and attached. However, for some parents, being really close and connected, also means, keeping distress away from a child’s life. Some parents do everything they can to prevent their children from experiencing distress and tears.
By having the metaphorical pendulum in the middle, we’ll raise the most adapted young adults. These young adults will feel close, connected and capable. They will know that their parents are there for them but they will also have had practice at handling challenges and distress before they leave home and live on their own. They will know what it feels like to dig deep and show grit. They will know how to bounce back from adversity.
This story, which has many slight variations, is a beautiful reminder of why we need to be there for our children and let them experience struggle. It’s also a good story to read to our kids to help them understand why struggle is important.
The Butterfly Story
A small boy found a cocoon on a leaf and decided to take it home. For days he carefully observed his treasure and not long after, he watched as a small butterfly began to chew his way out of the cocoon.
The butterfly struggled and struggled, but after much effort, it only partially emerged from the cocoon. After a while, the boy determined that something must be wrong because the butterfly appeared stuck and did not seem to be able to escape the cocoon. With compassion, the boy helped the butterfly by carefully tearing the cocoon a little to enlarge the hole and free the butterfly. The butterfly did emerge but its body was bloated and its wings were shrivelled and useless. The wings remained shrivelled and after a short time the butterfly died.
The boy asked a friend, who was a biologist, to explain what had happened to the butterfly. The biologist explained that this struggle to emerge from the cocoon pushed the fluid from the butterfly’s body into the capillaries and into its wings, completing the butterfly’s transformation. When the hole in the cocoon was artificially enlarged, the butterfly never had to struggle and thus never developed functional wings. In attempting to help the butterfly, the boy had inadvertently crippled it.
Without a struggle, there are no wings!
~ Author Unknown
People with Dyslexia also have to struggle, especially in school. Their intelligence is ready and waiting but the learning disability creates a struggle to either understand or express their work. If you work with or have a child with a learning disability, you will be interested to know that we are showing the award winning documentary: The Big Picture – Rethinking Dyslexia on November 15th at 7pm at the North Shore Unitarian Church in West Vancouver. After the film, Dr. Davies, psychologist and director of the ABLE Clinic will facilitate a 30 minute Q & A discussion. I hope you can join us. You can buy your tickets here for $10. (You may wish to bring your child too, if he/she is at least 10 years old).
If you would like to read more about developing grit, I’ve written this previous article: How to Teach Our Kids to Have More Grit
Wishing you a week of seeing struggles as a gift to help us grow,
PS. There are still spaces available for my next round of Self-Empowerment Groups for children ages 10-12 yrs. but the 7-9 year old group has sold out. If you would like your child to feel more empowered in handling social dynamics/friendship drama, teasing/bullying, assertive communication, perspective taking, and self- regulation click here and then go to “upcoming groups/events”.
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