“The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard.” – Sloan Wilson, journalist
What an analogy! It’s hard to add to that, but I’ll ramble on nonetheless. Those of you who have children or work with them know that this is a pretty good summation of the way things work with kids. In reality, that’s a pretty good summation of any relationship. Every human interaction involves some level of support and freedom.
OK, my head just exploded. With our children, we move from more to less support and at the same time, increasing freedom. In our other relationships, do we perhaps move from less to more support, but with freedom redefined? Redefined, perhaps, as the freedom to leave (not all relationships with others grow!) becoming the freedom to stay (some relationships grow into lifetime choices of friendship and/or love).
But back to the bike. What’s so hard after learning to ride? Once we’ve gotten the support to balance it, we figure we’re free. And done with learning.
A lot of kids give up the bicycle when they begin driving cars, trading one means of transportation for another. The lure of the automobile – speed, comfort, ease of use – crowds out other options. And they forget what it was like to be out there, on two wheels. They forget the freedom, the sense of flight, that feeling the wind brings. They forget the euphoria of coasting downhill.
That’s when it gets hard again. Not hard to “ride the bike,” because one never forgets how to ride…umm, balance a bike, but hard because the innocence and invincibility of childhood fades. Adult life interferes. And so, too, does fear. Many people never take up riding again because they are frightened. Of falling. Of cars. Of roads. Of hills. Of rocks. Of…
And that’s where support comes in again. There is always more to learn, and confidence to build. Because in learning more, we realize (discover) that we can have better control over what happens.
- Learning emergency maneuvers lets me react better in dangerous situations.
- Learning about traffic principles shows me how to be interact with other drivers.
- Learning more about descending hills makes me able to do it more safely.
You get my drift?
So keep learning. There are plenty of resources out there for you. I have some of them on my links page. Support and freedom. Not just for our children – for all of us.