Your Child’s Disappointments are Life Lessons
I will never forget standing next to our oldest daughter as her and my eyes searched the list of names of who made the “A” basketball team. Her 7th grade friends were on the list….but her name was not. I saw her shoulders slump and the tears come. My heart ached as I thought about the disappointment washing over her. In the scheme of life, this was such a minor disappointment, but for a 12 year old girl, it was catastrophic. My initial thought was that the system was flawed. No child should have this much disappointment…why should there be an “A” squad and a “B” squad? I saw her free throws…she made as many as anyone else…maybe they scored her wrong!
Over the years I have seen all four of our children dealing with disappointments, and it has not been easy, but I have certainly gained perspective since that night. I have learned that the disappointments my children have experienced in life have provided the backbone of their successes later. I have learned that “fixing” all of their disappointments actually gets in the way of their growth. The most valuable lesson through disappointment is perseverance. Our kids will always have disappointments in life, there are birthday parties they won’t be invited to, elections they will lose, teams they won’t make, championships that will be lost, denial letters from first choice colleges, and “thanks for applying” letters from jobs. You know that life brings disappointments. How our children learn to handle and use these disappointments will determine how they will handle them later in life. Our response to their disappointments will shape their responses.
So, I shed a few silent tears with her as we sat in the car that night after learning she didn’t make the team with her friends. We talked about the positives of being able to play more on the “B” team and not sit the bench, we talked about meeting some new friends, and we talked about working hard to improve. I watched her work a little harder at her game, make a few new friends and have a fun season. This story does not end with her becoming a star basketball player in high school….she played but sat the bench a lot. But the lessons she learned far outweighed the disappointment she felt that night at 12.
We as parents need to remember that we can’t always rescue our children from sadness, disappointment, and hurt. We never like to see our children suffer those emotions, but preventing them or “fixing” the situation doesn’t really fix anything at all. We need to learn to step back and let our children navigate the disappointment….thus building their will and character. Wrap them up in your love, stand with them shoulder to shoulder and help them embrace their disappointments as opportunities. What a gift to give your child, learning that they will be loved through hardships in life, and they are strong enough to grow from them.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
- Posted in: Becoming a parent ♦ Growth and Development ♦ Parent/child communication ♦ Raising a child with character
- Tagged: don't rescue your child, growth and development milestones, helicopter parenting, life disappointments, life lessons, parenting advice, preschooler, school age, self confidence, self esteem, teen years, toddler