Am I helping or hurting?

This question is one I have wrestled with over the years. It can be difficult to know when to step back and allow my kids to experience some struggles. I don’t like seeing them hurting, sad, disappointed, or discouraged, yet life is messy and full of challenges.

I know hardship and heartache have strengthened my tenacity, stretched the perseverance muscles, and expanded my capacity for compassion. Other qualities like patience, satisfaction, and hope are fostered in the times of waiting and delayed gratification. Personal experience tells me failure and mistakes spur on creative thinking and moves one to problem solving thus producing success. Perhaps a kinder and smarter way to approach life’s difficulties is to train our kiddos to persevere and persist in the pain and pits rather than protect them from it.

What are some remedies to enabling?

kids and the single mom

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Here are 5 ways experience allows children to be empowered.

  1. Allow kids to wrestle with issues rather than being rescued from them. Ask questions to help kick start the problem-solving mind-set. Come alongside your children, let them know you are with them, and they have the ability to manage life’s struggles.
  2. Squelch impulsiveness and build delayed gratification.  Waiting and working for a desired item allows kids to think through impulses. (Clearly a good thing for our teens, yes?) The side benefit is that children begin to distinguish between a need and a want.
  3. Appreciate the uniqueness of family members. Notice each one’s giftedness. Avoid comparing siblings to each other. Competition among sisters and brothers breeds contempt and rivalry.
  4. Provide kind correction so they learn correction is not rejection. Show empathy and love by listening, understanding, and sharing experiences where you have learned something when you received correction.
  5. Be the coach rather than the referee when your children squabble. Train them how to work through disagreements agreeably. If the children receive no guidance in this area, jungle rules prevail and the older and smarter one will always win.

We empower our kiddos when we support them through encouragement and equip them with the tools to build their internal motivation, “Way to go! I bet it feels great to have your blood, sweat, and tears effort rewarded. Congratulations on a job well done!”

Just as joy and happiness are good things– struggles and challenges are valuable as well. Join me in trading in that enabler cap and replace it with an empowering parent hat. 

What ways have you found to empower rather than enable your kids? 


 Lori WildenbergParenting is Lori Wildenberg’s passion. She speaks nationally and has authored four, soon to be five, books. Those books include, Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home and Raising Little Kids with BIG Love. Lori is the co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, a ministry for moms and dads. Her easily applicable, relevant, relatable, and cutting edge material is presented with warmth, humor, and transparency. She admits she is not the perfect mom and openly shares stories of parent fails and successes.  Lori, a licensed parent and family educator, loves to coach parents to be the parents their kids need. The Wildenberg family resides in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. A perfect day in Lori’s world is a hike with her husband, five kids (four plus a daughter-in-love), and the family labradoodle, Murphy.  You can find out more about Lori at


The Life of a Single Mom logoThe Life of a Single Mom is a national, faith-based, nonprofit that exists to see that no single mom walks alone. To date, we have worked with more than 1,500 churches & community groups to start or improve a single mom’s support group in cities throughout the U.S. and beyond. We have a large array of books, curriculum, training materials, and online instructional videos to support ministry leaders who lead single moms. Our single mom programs focus on empowering single moms to grow spiritually, emotionally, financially, and parentally through a number of projects including: Single Mom University, Single Moms Across America, the National TLSM Single Moms Conference, and a variety of programs throughout the U.S. For more information, visit