Soft Shell…Hard Life…Adjust to Meet the Challenges of Raising Your Kids

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Recently a soft-shelled turtle climbed the hill towards our house and began to dig her nest about 200 feet away from the lake in our backyard. I grabbed my camera and took some pictures trying to be careful not to disturb her. She worked and worked with her back legs trying to dig a hole while keeping her head high in the air alert for any danger.

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She did not seem to mind our presence but when a cat made her appearance some thirty feet away she decided that the timing was right and she needed to head for the water which she did. The cat followed her down the hill back towards the lake but stayed a good ways behind.

I was impressed by the strong instinctive drive that this soft-shelled turtle had in order to make such a journey up that hill and travel so far from the comfort and safety of the lake to lay  her eggs. I pondered why make it so hard for the young hatchlings to travel so far to get back to the lake once they hatched. I did some brief research on-line to no avail. Whatever the answer, the reason must be that it gives the greatest chance of survival for the young.

Each of us seeks the same for our children. Though most of the time it is not a life or death situation, the instinct is the same. We want to give our children the best possible chance for a wonderful and successful life. I find it interesting that for the soft-shelled turtle this must offer the best chance of survival though it does not guarantee their success. As soon as the mom is done she books it back to the lake. If the eggs do hatch the baby turtles have a long arduous walk with many birds of prey flying over head before they make it back to the lake. Once in the lake they still have some time in the gauntlet before they are big enough to survive the hungry predators found waiting for them there.

Compare this to some of the other birthing and child rearing in the animal kingdom. The owl outside our window sat on her nest for weeks and then once the baby owls hatched she continued to bring food and stand guard for what seemed like many more weeks. When a calf or foal is born, it stays with the mother and is fed and protected by her for months. I have seen the bedding of bass where the male bass stays near the eggs and swims in a small circle darting out and attacking anything that attempts to come near the eggs. There are countless examples of different birthing and off spring raising in the animal kingdom.

My wife and I have raised four kids and it has not been an easy job…We have generally agreed on the way we should teach and discipline our children. However, we have not been perfect and have learned and adjusted as we went along. This is an important principle in raising a family. It is perfectly ok to watch what other families are doing, to watch how other children behave, to listen to parents and grandparents and consider their advice. My wife and I spoke often of our child rearing failures but also observed what was going on around us. By watching the results of others going through this same process you can filter through the best practices that might work in your own family.

Unlike the turtle or the bass or the cow, whatever our instincts are that we start with, we have the ability to adjust our child rearing to fit the needs of our children and the environment in which we find ourselves. Do not be afraid to make those moves to give your kids the best chance for success. In some cases you may think that making your children crawl 200 feet back to the lake is a good idea and in other cases you may think that staying by their side and protecting and nurturing and lifting them may be the best idea. Just know that it is a never-ending consideration that needs your attention and contouring to get the best results.

HighFive Your Life Principle: Stay diligent in adjusting your strategy to raise your children to meet the demands of a fast changing world.

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