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How a Young Thai Soccer Team Can Inspire Parents Everywhere

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Dr. Meg Meeker

We all want to protect our kids. From the moment they’re born, we want to keep them safe and ensure that nothing will harm them. But, as my friend Dr. Tim Elmore says, we need to focus on preparing our kids, not protecting them.

Parents, we will not always be physically present with our children. One day you will have to let them go, and the hope is that when you do, you will have sufficiently prepared them for whatever they will face. Your goal should be to raise resilient kids, not reliant ones.

Parents, we will not always be physically present with our children. Your goal should be to raise resilient kids, not reliant ones.

For the last 18 days, Americans have been glued to their phones and TVs watching as Thai Navy SEALs and rescue teams worked around the clock to free a young soccer team and their coach who were stranded in a cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand. As of this week, all 13 made it out safe and are now recovering in the hospital.

One of the most touching stories that have come out of this rescue mission are the letters the young players wrote to their parents from inside the cave while waiting to be rescued. In their letters they wrote things like:

“Mom and Dad, don’t worry about me. I am fine.”

“We want to eat many foods and go straight home.”

“I love you mom and dad. Don’t worry, we are safe.”

One of them even joked, “Teacher, please don’t give us too much homework.”

To me, these letters say a lot about these kids and the parents who are raising them. With their letters, these children ensured their parents that they were alive and OK. They offered comfort to their parents, who they knew were worried. They showed hope of being rescued, and they were even able to maintain a sense of humor in the face of great adversity.

I applaud these children, and I applaud their parents. These parents’ worst fear came true. I wish they never had to experience the fear of losing their child and not knowing if they would ever see him again. But this event did show these parents that even in their worst-case scenario, they raised a child who could face such a circumstance with bravery, hope, and resilience.

Parents, you will not be able to protect your child from every person or every disaster. This is impossible. What you can focus on doing is raising your child to be a full-functioning adult some day. One who can find hope and joy in the face of adversity and can overcome obstacles, even the ones that feel impossible.

My prayer is that no parent or child ever has to go through what these families did in Thailand over the last few weeks. But I know they have inspired me and many others as they modeled what bravery, hope and resilience can look like in kids, and in the parents who raised them.

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