Life Lesson #2 Learned in Guatemala – Exposing Our Kids

It is so incredibly important to expose our kids to as many situations and experiences as possible, comfortable and uncomfortable. You don’t have to go out of the country to do this, but while we were in Guatemala this last trip, I was reminded of the value of putting our kids in less than ideal situations.

As a parent, our natural tendency – and especially in today’s society – is to provide as much comfort for our children as possible. We want them safe. We don’t want them to get hurt, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, and we often think it’s in our control. If we could, many of us would cushion every fall and make sure they didn’t scrape a knee.

We want to protect them from failures and heartbreaks, and we want to make all their dreams come true. But is this really in their best interest?

When our kids are learning to walk and climb, there are natural consequences and sometimes gravity wins. Through the bumps and the bruises, our children learn to walk. They are stronger and become more capable. Likewise, as they get older, unless we as parents expose them to gravity situations, they may not be prepared when they hit the real world and are on their own, and (take a breath) are without us.

In our homes, it’s easy to have a routine that is safe and comfortable, and it’s super easy to stay in our comfort zones, especially because there is often fight back to do things that are uncomfortable, but I have never known life in the real world to be easy and comfortable to anyone. So why would we want to set a false notion and expectation for our kids? Imagine the power of teaching our kids from a young age to go outside their comfort zone and to become experts at coping and dealing with hard things.

Those that learn to step outside their comfort zone while they are young, build resilience, and are able to handle their gravity moments through life with more confidence, faith, and grit. Those who have been protected their whole lives, may fall flat on their face when they are on their own, unsure how to handle their path that will undoubtedly have gravity moments.

On this last trip to Guatemala, we picked the perfect comfortable flight. We did NOT want a red-eye flight, but we unexpectedly got bumped to the red-eye flight that we specifically avoided. So when we got to Guatemala we were all beat. We hadn’t been able to sleep on the plane, but we also didn’t want to waste the day away sleeping. So we took a little nap and then we were off on one of our adventures (which I will share more about in a future post). When we got home that night, I think my oldest would have paid a hundred dollars for a cold drink of water. We had had water throughout the day, but not cold water, and of course there is the added stress to be vigilant about making sure the water is filtered and coming from a safe source.

On day 1, between the lack of sleep and first world conveniences, our kids started building those resilience muscle that will help them throughout their life. The experiences of day 1 was the first of many experiences like this on the trip. How grateful I am to be able to take my children to a place of less conveniences where the people have no choice but to go outside their comfort zone. They are more prepared to face whatever life throws at them and I felt so blessed that my girls not only were able to see and feel of the Guatemalan’s strength and capability to do hard things, but also of their own.

Every child is different, but as we meet our children where they are, with love, and teach them how to step outside their comfort zones, they will undoubtably build resilience and grit muscles that will help them successfully navigate the pitfalls and hurdles that are sure to come in their lives.

Some cry over spilled milk, we cry over pure cold water!:-)

This a series of lessons we learned on our trip to Guatemala. Check out Life Lesson #1 by clicking this link.