Necessary Roughness


Necessary RoughnessNecessary Roughness is a television show that promotes “tough love” by a counselor to professional athletes. In this case, art does not seem to imitate life. I am amazed at how many people (parents, coaches, teachers, etc) are afraid of “harming the fragile self-esteem” of a child by “riding them hard” and “pushing them to succeed.” Of course, instruction should be done in love, but it IS loving to put a little fire under them! “Hard work never hurt anyone.” (and then there’s the poster of the pug dog lying down quoting that adage and adding “but I’m not taking any chances.”)

I was reminded of this perspective the other day as I got into a “life coaching duet” with a waiter at Olive Garden (yummmm). In our “exchange of wisdom,” he mentioned an inspiring story. Maybe everyone else in the world has heard “The Butterfly Story” but I had not. Many versions can be found online. Here is one of them.

Once a little boy was playing outdoors and foundcaterpillar2 a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would take good care of it.

The little boy got a large jar from his mother and put plants to eat, and a stick to climb on, in the jar. Every day he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.

One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started acting strangely. The boy worriedly called his mother who came and understood that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon. The mother explained to the boy how the caterpillar was going to go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly.

The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched every day, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. One day it happened, a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly started to struggle to come out.

At first the boy was excited, but soon he became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out! It looked like it couldn’t break free! It looked desperate! It looked like it was making no progress!

The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He ran to get scissors, and then walked back (because he had learned not to run with scissors…). He snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger and the butterfly quickly emerged!

As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised. It had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the butterfly’s wings would expand.

            But neither happened!

The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.

It never was able to fly…

As the boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong his mother took him to talk to a scientist from a local college. He learned that the butterfly was SUPPOSED to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good intentions hurt the butterfly.

Viceroy_ButterflyThe point is obvious, struggling is an important part of any growth experience. In fact, it is the struggle that causes you to develop your ability to fly.

Do you relate? Have you seen this truth in your life? Do you struggle with not letting your child or loved one struggle? Are you  flying?

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About deairby

From a small Mississippi town and have lived my adult life in the south. I am the wife of Tom Irby since 1974, mother of 8, grandmother of 8, lover of Truth, previous owner of The Baron York Tea Room Cafe and Gift Shop (7 years), cookbook writer, moderator of the Small Business forum on Social Media Examiner, enjoy life and all the adventure God brings my way.
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9 Responses to Necessary Roughness

  1. Emme Rogers says:

    “Hard work never hurt anyone.” ~ Well said. Parents need to be parents, not best buds. By not teaching their children to work hard, be respectful, and take responsibility for their own actions, parents are doing them an extreme injustice and not doing their jobs. Parenting is not suppose to be easy, but fighting the hard fight will make you proud of who your child becomes.

  2. Tanya says:

    It has been a long time since I heard that story…thanks for the reminder. I am a butterfly. My son is too. I hope and pray my grandson will be too one day.

  3. Great post and I loved the story which I had never heard. My parents always said that they aspired to give me and my brother “both roots and wings” and I think they did a pretty good job in making us feel loved, safe and cared for but not afraid to stand on our own two feet, take some risks and aim for what we wanted to do…

  4. yes – i do fly. and therefore my kids (they are 18 and 22 yo and very independent strong and free and living global lifestyles) are also flying ´cause i tought them how. but this you only can by actually doing it and then also demand from them. this is only working with tough love: believe beyond their wildest dreams into them and be absolutly ruthless.
    same it is with my coaching clients.

  5. This is a great illustration of a sometimes difficult concept. I think at times we are all tempted to take or provide the easier way out. I used this story in our retreat last weekend.

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