Empowerment of our children should begin early. There are many reasons to empower our children. As with all lessons, young children learn the lessons easier than when they are older.
Empowerment and Spilled Milk
Nate sat in a high chair pushed up to the table because he had outgrown the need for the tray. He held a green bean in front of his face and studied it. Whatever fascination it held for the two-year-old passed, and he popped it into his mouth.
His older brother had the attention of all gathered around the table. “You should have seen our butterfly bush this morning. There were ‘bout a million butterflies. I wanted to get Mom to take a picture, but I couldn’t leave.”
Mom laughed, “I’ll go out with you tomorrow morning, and maybe they’ll come again. I’ll have my phone ready for pictures.”
Nate swung his arms in a big circle and asked, “Can I go, too? A million butterflies.” He made another circle with his arms and knocked over his cup of milk. Some went on his plate, some on the table, and the rest splashed on the floor. “Uh-oh.” He looked down at the mess on the floor and the side of the high chair.
As if this happened every day, Karen began to help Nate down. “I’ll get the cloth for you to clean up the floor first. Did you get some on your pants?”
Nate took the cloth and wiped the wet spot on his leg, then began to work on the floor. Tears welled in his eyes as he looked up at his mom. “I didn’t mean to, Mommy.”
Karen squatted beside her son. “I know, Nate. You were just excited about the butterflies. And yes, of course you can go with us in the morning. I bet we’ll get some good pictures.”
The Value of Empowerment
I was a guest at that family dinner—many years before I had children of my own. The incident made a lasting impression on me for two reasons.
- Nate’s mom did not criticize him for the spill. She knew he didn’t do it on purpose. Her low-emotion response freed Nate to learn from the mistake.
- Nate knew the responsibility for rectifying the situation fell on him because he was the one who spilled the milk. He started getting down to clean up even before his mom walked over to help him.
I witnessed a beautiful example of empowerment which means not doing for your children anything they can do for themselves. That little incident made an impact on my teaching, my counseling, and my parenting. And it is how we give our children wings to fly on their own.