Can We Over Help our Children? A Lesson from a Peach Tree

Have you ever spent a sleepless night staring at your ceiling worried about your son or daughter? Have you ever worried about the balance between supporting and enabling? I think that is something all parents should think about. Statistics suggest that this generation of youth are less resilient than the generations that came before them. What’s up? Could it be that we as parents are doing too much for them? Are we too quick to step in to resolve the problem? It is a hard balance to strike. 

An experience with a peach tree helped me learn a great lesson about this balance. A few years back in the early spring bad news hit our cul-de-sac. There was going to be a hard freeze and our peach tree blossoms were in danger of being ruined. Three of us neighbors met and talked about what we could do to protect our blossoms. We knew that if we did nothing the blossoms would die, and ultimately not have fruit 

One neighbor had read a blog which suggested that misting our peach trees with water could insulate the buds. He ran a hose from his back door to his peach tree, tied a sprinkler on to the main trunk of the tree, turned on his sprinkler, and then went to bed. The picture below was the result:

The weight of the “protective” ice became so heavy that it broke the limbs of the tree. The ice did more damage to the tree than the frost would have done to the blossoms. Can we do the same thing to our children? Can our well-intended efforts to “insulate them” from difficulty do more harm than good?

Being a parent is hard, and watching our children struggle leads to a lot of sleepless nights, and mentally consuming days. But, like my neighbor’s peach tree, if we are not careful, the insulation we provide, if excessive, may become more damaging to the tree (our children) than the frost (their challenges) and may stunt their growth in the all-important characteristic of resilience. It is a hard balance to strike, but it is something that us parents might want to think more about.