Both of my boys were eager, hands-on learners. My oldest, especially, would get so frustrated if Tom (his Dad) and I anticipated an opportunity for him to learn something and, instead, walked him through the lesson. We always meant well, but we were unknowingly taking away a “conquering moment” each time. We never realized we were substituting a “teaching moment” in place of his “learning moment.”

In our defense, he was also a strong-willed, stubborn child and seemed to have to learn things the hard way.  We were trying to avoid pain for him and for us!

Yet, he would not only not do the wise thing in that moment, he would sometimes take the somewhat rebellious path:  Often, because we tried to teach him. We had his best interests at heart, but we didn’t always see his need to learn on his own terms.

Yes, the scriptures are full of proverbs that tell us a wise man listens and heeds wise counsel, while the foolish man turns a deaf ear. But, is the desire to own our decisions really such a foolish notion?

Certainly not!  It is not a sign of a foolish, impetuous heart — it’s a sign of growing up. There is a balance of course between teaching and learning – a delicate one that we as parents never mastered.  What we as parents learned is that it’s a desire of our children’s hearts to have the space to spread their wings and try to fly. Whether the choices made are right is not the point for them; it’s simply that the chance was given, and taken, to experience and to learn.

What my husband and I discovered over time is that our son wasn’t just trying to learn from the specific decisions he made — he was learning how to learn on his own.