Tell me what you want, what you really really want – for your children. Okay, sorry. That’s a throw back to the Spice Girls and what they were asking is far different from what I am. When we have children, or are pregnant, we genuinely say that what we want is for them to be healthy. After that, what else?
We may not want to admit it, but I would guess that if we could prevent the inevitable growing pains of well, growing up, we would. The emotional pains especially.
Physical hurts are tended, bandaged and healed; then we send them back into the world. Emotional pain, that’s another story. It is hard to balance out what to allow our kids to work through on their own and where we should step in and help. We all carry our own emotional marks of growing up, and sometimes we want to protect our children from the things that hurt us. Which hurts though?
The loss of a friendship, or of a poor mark despite best efforts? Of not making the team, or maybe making the team and not being the best? We would like them to experience first love, but not first love’s heart-break.
We want them to know how to make good decisions. Do they set good boundaries? Are they good winners? Are they good losers?
Hmm, so much to think about and so little time to develop it all.
The reality is, that once they are born, we are so taken up with active parenting, that we don’t give it a lot of thought.
Resilience is one of the biggest gifts we can give
It’s resilience that we’re talking about, because that’s what we really want, isn’t it? That our children are able to come back from whatever life hands out?
Some people have an inner core of persistence and perseverance. The ability, to a certain degree, to shake off unkind remarks, unfair judgments about effort or end results. Others of us haven’t. I don’t know why that is, if it is personality or birth order. I do think we all benefit from acknowledging what hurts us and not try to gloss it over or bull our way through it. Denial lessens the chance to become more because it prevents us from admitting what it was that hurt and how we will change in our interactions with ourselves and others. We can’t change others, that’s a fact, but there is always the option to change ourselves.
We will all fail, often, in different ways and will have different perceptions of it. How well we get on with our lives is what we tell ourselves about the failure. Do we use our failures as a way to gain understanding of ourselves and of the world, or do we make them into stories about ourselves and our worthiness? For our children, our task is to make sure they learn how to make the failures, disappointments and let downs opportunities to learn, and not become self-limiting beliefs. We allow ourselves to feel what we feel and name the feelings. Then, honouring the process, we move up and over the setback.
How are you modeling resilience?
In order to teach our children, we must be present in our own lives and our own stories. We create a story, but not about how we weren’t good enough, but rather an objective look at what happened, what we learned about the situation and about ourselves. We can teach our kids to do the same thing.
I understand I am asking a lot. The tendency for many is to run far, far away from self-examination and reflection. In fact, people will watch a re-run of a TV show they don’t really care for, so they aren’t left with their own thoughts. (Yes, there are actually studies about this.)
You can do this though, we all can. Imagine the life long gift you give to them, and to yourself. It is a chance for something new to take hold, an opportunity to create an even better version, the next time around. I can’t speak for you, but I know that’s what I want, what I really, really want.
Do you have a story to tell about a disappointment, let down or failure and what you learned from it? Willing to share? I’d love to hear from you.