Parenting can bring so much ‘joy’ but on the flip side it can also present us with this unfolding variety of reasons to feel guilt, frustration and sadness.
As parents, we all remember that ‘universal’ car ride home from the hospital when our primal sense of needing to protect this precious bundle kicks in. In fear, we begin to instruct our partners or whoever is driving to slow down, be careful and watch out for that car in front! We suddenly realise that we are now 100% responsible for this human life and we make a pact in that moment that we will protect them for the rest of their life, no matter what!
As they grow up, we try to intervene and rescue and shield them from disappointment, uncertainty, adversity, losing, failure and getting hurt.
With all good intentions, we search for the best dance school, football team, music tutor or the best school so that our children can learn to be the best at what they do and excel in the world.
We do everything we can to prevent them making the same mistakes we did so they don’t have to feel the pain that we felt and we do for them what wasn’t done for us as children. It is all done from a desire to create a beautiful world and life experience for the children we love.
Now, take a step back and think back on your own life experience, the hurdles you jumped, the problems you solved, the hardship you got through. These moments made you who you are –they gave you strength, courage and resilience to face adversity and achieve your life goals.
My fear is that when we don’t allow our children to fail or struggle we are preventing them from having the full range of emotions, instead of just the ‘positive’ ones.
Many parents feel very uncomfortable when their children experience ‘negative emotions’. We feel a strong desire to ‘save’ them from these feeling and bring them back to happiness again. It’s important for your children to feel sad, angry, disappointed and hurt to promote resilience and navigate the ups and downs of life.
We need to teach our children how to feel their feelings!
Teach them to identify the feeling and ask them if they want to talk about it. Show them how to be okay with the feeling and have compassion for themselves. Teach them to say, “I’m feeling disappointed – it’s okay, it’s just a feeling and it will pass”.
Research has shown that the feeling of ‘Hope’ is a function of ‘struggle’ – we learn hope when we experience adversity, when we have faith in our ability to get out of a jam. If we deny our children the opportunity to fail then we are also denying them the chance to feel ‘hope’.
Remember, if your child is experiencing frustration, disappointment, sadness or anger, it does not mean you are a terrible parent. In fact, sometimes it means that you have set an appropriate boundary for your child.