Found across the nation, they are a quintessential piece of playground equipment. And for small children, the crusher of dreams.
A bit extreme? Perhaps. But for that five-year-old who so desperately wants to swing with abandon to catch up to their older sibling, it’s what it can feel like. And while we as dads can help hoist them up, and hold their legs as their slippery little hands grip the bars, we can’t make them tall enough or strong enough to get across.
The monkey bars won’t be your child’s first challenge to overcome, nor will it be their last.
As fathers, it’s tempting to want to fix a challenge for them, yet we all know that it doesn’t teach them resilience or fortitude if we do. So, what to do? This is where we give them the tools, support, and guidance to work through it on their own, both in their own time, and in their own way.
Today, it’s teaching them how to leap high enough to grip that first bar and using momentum to swing to the second. Tomorrow, it will be about talking to a friend who isn’t being kind, or tackling SAT prep questions. Whatever challenge they face, it will be your foundation of encouragement and unconditional love that gives them the confidence and skill set to maneuver through life’s tricky and uncomfortable moments.
Dads, you have to be your child’s biggest cheerleader. And I don’t mean that in a way of creating illusions of grandeur, but instilling a steely determination that will get them through whatever life throws their way.