As parents, we have an ingrained reflex of protecting our children from all suffering. This is natural in any animal, but sometimes we overdo it, and try to protect our children from all discomfort, which may not be always the best for them, despite our good intentions.
My first son was born in 2008, and a few months later my Sifu, Chen Yingjun, stayed in my home for a week, in order to teach a seminar in the country. My son had baby cramps, and would cry every day from 5 to 7pm. I would try to comfort him, having him on my lap and rubbing his belly. But I felt very sorry for him, even tough the doctor told me that it happened to some babies and it wasn’t a big deal – I didn’t want him to have any discomfort. At dinner, chatting with my Master, I said, “man, my son cries for two hours every single day, with cramps”. he answered:
Good, it will make his lungs strong!Chen Yingjun
I was very surprised, his spontaneous reply showed me how I was worrying for nothing. Of course it’s ok to comfort my kid, but there was completely different way to look at it: a tough stint would make him strong. Taijiquan (Tai Chi) is not easy to learn properly, and it’s quite tough on your legs. But it will make you strong.
In a recent interview to my Gongfu brother Norman Kobow, Master Chen Yingjun recounted something from his childhood:
My father started teaching me, when I was two years old, outside in winter, with snow outside and minus something. I was shaking because it was too cold. He said this was to make me stronger.Chen Yingjun