My wife and I and our friends, Bill and LuAnn, were sharing stories about our twenty-something kids. As we discussed the normal trials and challenges these young people face, we wondered out loud about the balance between saving them and teaching them to “sink or swim.”

“We’ve always tried to wrap our kids in a burlap blanket,” said Bill. I asked him to explain.“It’s tempting,” he said, “to wrap them in a blanket of protection for every little problem that befalls them. No one wants to see their children suffer in any way. But they have to learn to face the world and the only way they do that is by failing occasionally and dealing with the consequences.”

There are thresholds to this approach, of course, because life can be a dangerous place. So rather than wrapping them in a nice, soft blanket, we should wrap them in burlap. That way, they feel some of the discomfort, but know that we still have their backs for critical issues.

This is an apt metaphor for what every parent faces over time as their children come of age. So the question becomes, “What can you do to wrap your kids in a “burlap blanket?” Where is the balance for your children between protecting them from genuine dangers and compelling them to grow through the occasional discomforts of life? They may not like this approach at first, but they’ll appreciate the gesture as they mature.

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