Let Your Kids Be Disappointed – It’s Real Life
How do any of us grow? By walking through circumstances that require it. As a young mom, I lacked patience with my kids. I was quick to snap. After praying for patience, God called me to homeschool. Years of day in and day out trying my patience, and I see growth in that area. It’s been H.A.R.D.
Growth is a process filled with growing pains. As parents we have a role to help our kids grow. This is the opposite of setting them up for an amazing, success-filled, perfect, Disney World like life. I fear many parents in today’s culture are trying to create an amazing life for their kids rather than prepare kids who can function in a harsh and often cruel world.
Raising strong kids
As parents we want to raise strong kids. We want them to be able to withstand the storms life will bring them. We’ve heard the saying, “Prepare your child for the road, not the road for your child.” Are we doing that?
There’s a trend in parenting of cleaning the road of all obstacles so the child doesn’t trip, and when they do, mom and dad swoop in to make it all right.
When we hear of a kid being mean to our kid, we jump in and work out the problem for them. When a teacher gives a low grade on a paper, mom and dad email the teacher wanting answers. When the teen didn’t get the job, mom and dad call the employer. When our kid is cut from the team, we demand answers and work to fix it.
Yes, we should advocate for our kids, but at the same time, there are times we need to step back and see how they move forward. We can advise and guide them. We don’t want to raise victims who look at life as always being against them. We want to raise adults who realize life is hard, but with the grace of God we can manage hard things well.
As a parent, when our child faces disappointment, we have an opportunity to empathize, while pointing them to Jesus.
We are raising adults
We have a job to raise adults. As adults we face losses, unfair circumstances, disappointments, and failures. This is life. What’s important is how we handle them when they come. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
In 2010 Steve and I vacationed in Hawaii to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. Awakened at 5:00am by the report of an earthquake in Chile, which would result in a Tsunami in Hawaii, I went into full melt down mode. The message I received was one of imminent death by drowning. I’ll never forget the words of the news anchor, “It’s not a matter of if, but one of when and how bad.” I’m embarrassed to say, I did not handle our situation well at all.
As a mom, I want my kids to grow into adults who understand that life brings hard moments. It’s not a matter of if, but when and how bad. I want them prepared to handle it by the grace of God.
We are not their Savior
A few weeks ago Andrew texted me from school. He was having some difficult interactions, which led to him feeling sad and wanting to leave school. We’d talked through these issues before. As the texts increased I realized he was looking to me to be his rescuer.
Our role is not to be our child’s Rescuer or Savior, but to point them to the One who is.
My mama instinct was to swoop in, bring him home, comfort him, and make it all right. But this would only help him in the short term. One day mama won’t be there to make it all better. However, there is One who will always be with us and will never ever leave or forsake us.
I responded to his text, “You can’t leave school. Pray. God will help you. I will pray too.” And I did. I prayed and prayed. His text later let me know he felt much better.
Our children need God more than they need a mom and dad to solve all their problems. Yes, we have a high calling to comfort, protect, nurture, advocate, and help. But we are not their end all answer, or at least we shouldn’t be.
Children and teens need to learn to have their own faith, not an extension of our faith. My faith can’t hold my kids up. It has to be their own. It has to be real and genuine. Real faith usually develops out of necessity. I’ve decided I’m ok with my kids experiencing hard times so they can learn to grow in their faith.
When Disappointment Comes
I took a trip to Florida recently. I wanted to take Andrew with me, but he had his first baseball game. The day of the game the weather called for rain. I began praying it wouldn’t rain. I mean PRAYING. The thought of Andrew’s disappointment over not going to Florida with me because of a game that wasn’t played bothered me more than it should have.
I took a step back. I didn’t want him to be disappointed. Plain and simple. I wanted him to have everything go the way it “should” go. But that is not reality. That is not real life.
Rather than praying away possible disappointments, I should pray my child has a strong enough faith to turn those disappointments over to Jesus, the one who cares about every hurt we face and comforts us when no one else is there.
The real role of parents
The pressure of culture today in our see all social media world is to present a picture perfect picture of our kids and our family. If our kids fail, what does it say about me as a mom? Did I fail too? If they make bad grades, does it mean I am a failure because I didn’t support them enough? If they don’t make the team, did I fail to get them the help they needed?
I believe one of the reasons we try so hard to create a smooth road for our kids is because we fear what it reflects on us. What will people think of us?
One of my more embarrassing parenting moments happened when my kids made their own volcano for a science project. It felt as if my kids were the only ones who brought in a project that looked like a kid made it. I was embarrassed wondering if all the parents thought I was a slack mom who doesn’t spend enough time helping her kids out.
But I got over it. I realized it was ok if my kids were embarrassed because they didn’t put in more effort. If they care enough, then next time they will. And if they don’t care enough, well that is ok too. It’s ok to not be amazing at everything. It’s ok to do the best we can without pushing ourselves to be the absolute best.
Our role as parents is to love, support, nurture, guide, discipline, and more than anything point them to Jesus.
Our role is not to make sure they have a smooth road to travel. It’s to be there when they fall, tell them we love them. It’s to be there when they are disappointed and empathize while reminding them there is only One who doesn’t disappoint. It’s to support them on their journey without pressuring them to be more than God created them to be, which is simply a human loved by Him.
If you want to read more on this topic, I wrote a post years ago about letting our kids fail. Dear Son, Why I Want You To Fail
Looking for a special gift for Easter? Add Scripture pillowcases to their Easter basket to remind them of the One who never fails!