My kids are now five and 15 months. No matter how hold they get, it is hard to watch them struggle. Whether it’s using a fork to eat raspberries or working their way across the monkey bars, I have this fatherly urge to jump in and help them along.
I’m a fixer. This is what dads do, right? I’m here to help, love and support. But what if all this helping is actually doing harm.
There is an on going debate in the world of raising chickens whether a farmer–backyard or commercial–should jump in and help the chicken hatch.
I’ve read that helping the chicken along can actually cause death, whether that’s by ripping off skin with the shell or taking over for mother nature and not building the perseverance needed to break through the shell.
And let’s face it. Doesn’t breaking through the shell define so much of childhood, whether that is the first three years or the teenage rebellion?
My one-year old needs help in the water. It’s safety. She’d crawl in head first without even being aware of the consequence. But there are times where I should let her work on zipping away at her shell.
My five year old pushes her buttons, until she screams in fury. Typically, I jump in and help her, reprimanding her older brother about space and respect. But after reading about the chicks hatching out of their eggs, I wonder if I jump in a little too soon.
She’s coming into her own, and her own involves a big brother to navigate. Lord knows she is going to need perseverance to draw boundaries with him.
Let’s take shoe tying as an example. My son isn’t there yet, but let’s just say that every time he was to get frustrated, I jumped in and said, “here, let me help by tying these for you.” Would he really learn to tie?
Humans learn by trying and failing. Getting frustrated and pushing through. Asking for help after surrendering defeat. These are all natural ways of growing.
There is a balance I’m working toward lately, and that is to support my kids when they are struggling or going through a hard time. I care, and I want them to know I’m here to help guide them through their struggle. But I’m not here to make their struggle any easier.
Life is a struggle at times, and the sooner they accept it or even embrace it, the better off they may be.
Many backyard farmers watch their chicks struggle to get out of their shell for over 24 hours. I’m sure that can seem like a lifetime when you want your chicken to hatch. But if it wasn’t for the 24 hours or more of struggling to get out, they wouldn’t have the strength or confidence to grow into a healthy chicken.