3 Important Parenting Lessons from Robins

3 Important Parenting Lessons from Robins

By: Joette Knapp

We have had an exciting Spring! Every year a pair of robins have tried to build a nest above the light on our back door. Every year I knock it down because it is literally right above your head! This year, however, I missed the opportunity to knock the nest down before the robin laid her eggs and because of that I got to observe 3 important parenting lessons.  

There we were with this pair of robins who would squawk at you and then dive-bomb you as you walked out the door. All you had to do was open the door and one, or both, would come flying at you squawking and swooping trying to get your attention away from the nest.

It was quite entertaining when I would pick up the grand-kids from school! It was a test of courage to get out of the car and go running to the house trying to beat the robins. The kids never won as the robins were watching from the nearest tree or from the top of the garage just waiting for someone to venture near their nest.

A couple weeks ago, as I left the house the robins were especially agitated. They both swooped at me and squawked like they’d never done before. I covered my head with my hands because of their attack. Honestly, a scene from The Birds flashed through my head as I ran to my car.

At one point, something hit my shoulder and I thought one of the robins had attacked me!! I turned around and there sitting on the ground was a baby robin! He looked a little stunned. He had hit my shoulder on his way down to the ground, obviously, he hadn’t accomplished flying yet! The robin parents were frantic thinking I was going to harm their baby. They screeched and flew around the baby as he sat there blinking and not moving.

I have no idea what the robins were saying to their offspring, but I’m pretty sure it went something like this. “Junior, what were you thinking? Why would you jump out of that cozy nest just as that human walked out the door? Have you lost your mind? You’re not ready to leave the nest!!!” To which Junior replied, “Don’t worry, I’m ok! There’s lots to see in the big world and I want to fly now!!!”

I don’t know a lot about robin behavior but I did draw some wisdom from their parenting skills.

First, the robins were steadfast in their protection of their nest and never gave up defending it.

They were also united in their defense of their nest, just as we should be of ours. Don’t let outside influences shape who your children become. Your children will always learn more from what you do then from what others say.

Secondly, ideally, it takes two parents.

The robins built the nest together and the Daddy would stand guard close by while the Momma would sit on her eggs. Then, they took turns guarding the nest after the eggs had hatched, never leaving it unattended.

Even if Mom and Dad are no longer married it’s important for both to be involved in the child rearing. Because, parenting alone is hard. It’s a lonely, difficult, and sometimes overwhelming job! If you know a single parent in your life, maybe you could offer to watch their kids for an hour or two to give them a much-needed break! One thing I know, and so did the Robins, it takes a village to raise a child!

Lastly, learn to let your children fly.

Parents are never ready for their babies to leave the nest but that’s what you are getting them ready to do. Don’t hold on to them so tightly that they can’t wait to break free from you. But, don’t let go too soon either. It’s a delicate balance. Your children need to know that they can always come back to the nest – for a visit! They need to know that you will always be there to help them navigate this big scary world.

As I was leaving I saw the little robin family on the ground with their fledgling, letting him figure things out himself. The parents had been joined by several other robins helping protect the baby. It was beautiful to witness.

Our children are ours for such a short time. Enjoy each new phase, embrace their individuality, guide them, love them, and protect them. The years literally fly by – no pun intended!