CARDINAL PARENTING VIRTUES

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Submitted Date 07/13/2021
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A video popped up on my "Memories" feed this morning on the book of faces. There are legitimate gripes about the behemoths of social media but one enjoyable feature is when past posts pop up. Today's was from last year, several videos of a momma cardinal prompting her fledgling chicks to fly. Watching the fearful foray of the young ones into the realm of flight brought to mind the challenge of all parents when children reach a certain age.

One of the most difficult times in child-rearing is to determine the moment when to cut the apron strings. With our five, the ages varied, and of course, cutting them loose doesn't mean we are abandoning them. As I watched the momma bird with her chicks, these were the parallels that came to mind.

They followed her example. - From the time the birds had cracked their shells, their mother had tended to them, bringing them food and protecting them. The daddy was seen from time to time. He would try to draw potential predators (us) away with fierce chirping and flitting about. Momma was their world, their everything. At some point, one of the little ones presumably imitated her flying away from the nest; \it was time for the other two to join them in flight.

Patient and tireless repetition was required. - We didn't see the first chick's fly-away. We spotted the second on the arm of our rocking chair. The mother would land next to it, then flit away, demonstrating the jump-and-flap needed to execute flight. After innumerable back-and-forths, the little one jumped off the arm of the rocking chair and followed its mother. That left but one still in the nest.

No one was left behind. - That last chick was the runt, fearful of leaving the nest. The other two were nowhere to be seen. I was able to sit in the rocker and get a good angle of the planter which housed the nest, using my phone to video the first flight of the baby. I sat in the chair for over two hours. There were over forty videos started and stopped before I finally caught the youngster's first flight attempt. It was only from the nest on the chain-link fence, but 'twas a glorious sight! Pappa presumably watched over the other two while Momma tempted the last away from the safety of the nest.

What can this teach us about that time in life when our kids need to be prompted to strike out on their own? Consider the following.

Set a good example. - For good or bad, our kids see and mimic our lives. The example we set matters - greatly! At some point, every child will find themselves realizing, "I do that like Dad did!" or, "I sound like Mom when I say that!" Make sure those are reaffirming reactions, not regretful reminiscences.

Don't get impatient with them. - Humans are fortunate that our kids don't generally come in litters. Most often, we get to deal with this stage in life one at a time. The way it worked for the eldest might not be the same as for the other(s). Help each find the way to safety in a way that works for them.

Never, ever quit trying. - The example of the Prodigal Son comes to mind here. Your kids may fly to the ground, where predators will try to eat them up. Keep up the loving chirping; encourage them to the relative safety of the metaphorical trees. They are worth all your patient endeavors.

Is this an oversimplification? Of course; every metaphor or analogy has its limitations. Take to heart that which helps; feel free to discard the detritus.

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