Back in December I posted two blogs talking about Stretching Without Breaking – how to help your children grow and stretch while journeying into adulthood. Since then, I have realized that there is a third element to that growing and stretching process.
Just as it is important to show your children compassion and encouragement during their journey, all while striving to preserve their emotional well-being, the third aspect is to show, by example, some stretching and growing yourself. As adults, we still are being stretched and challenged, sometimes on a daily basis. It’s easy to stay in our comfort zones as adults – using excuses like lack of time or denying ourselves opportunities so that our children can experience richer and more meaningful childhood experiences, etc. However, I think it’s vital to our children to see that we as adults are still willing to take chances, step out of comfort zones and try new things, and be challenged as opportunities arise.
I have been challenging myself in different areas lately and it’s fun to watch the reactions my children have. One thinks it’s exciting, one is surprised I would try it, and the other is too young to realize I haven’t done it my whole life. It’s a great learning opportunity for our kids to see us push ourselves in ways they didn’t think we could, doing things we thought we wouldn’t like, and maybe figuring out we still don’t like some of those things or finding something new we absolutely love.
Sometimes the stretching can involve the whole family: Trying something new on vacation like going to a new place and experiencing new sites and sound or mixing the familiar and comfortable with one new and exciting element. All of these things can help show our kids that there is excitement, adventure, and fun if we just look for it.
Time constraints and lack of getting into shape this year caused me to miss out on one opportunity I really want to challenge myself with. However, I’m planning and taking steps to make that a reality next year instead. But even this missed opportunity shows my kids that sometimes stretching requires a little more planning, a lot of hard work, and some training in order to achieve or reach whatever area you are stretching toward.
So my challenge to you today is this: What is one area of your life where you can stretch a little bit, either involving the entire family or an individual goal that you have put off, a “bucket list” of sorts? Whatever activity, goal, or interest you pursue, it will be a great example for your kids knowing that stretching can continue well into adulthood and beyond and that half the fun of living is to continually challenge yourself to be the best you can be all while having fun in the process.