Sometimes it’s really, really hard to teach your kids a lesson that you’re struggling to believe in yourself.
Lately for me, that lesson has been: Work hard, be respectful of others, and good things will happen.
Sage advice, right?
Common sense loves this old adage, but reality knows better.
The harsh truth is, there isn’t one among us who hasn’t at one time or another done and said all the right things, only to be slapped in the face with the results. And when that happens, it’s really (really) hard to try to look your child in the eye the next time they come to you seeking advice in a similar situation, and tell them their results will be any different. Because you just don’t know.
What a place the world would be if everything that should happen came to fruition. If every question mark were replaced with a period.
For as much as we hate them, even our failures and shortcomings come bearing gifts, but it sure is hard to see them sometimes. I’m not going to tell you it doesn’t sting to see your kid sitting the sidelines, or not being asked to a dance, chosen for an award, a role, or a team. Because it really, really does.
I’m in the thick of this right now, as I suspect many of you are. Adolescence comes in like a storm and hits some harder than others. History tells us it will get better, but when?
Confusing is an understatement some days. And yes, it’s a struggle to watch some things unfold.
Like the bully who has more friends than he knows what to do with. Or the cheater who is rewarded with the distinction of getting on high honor roll.
With this sort of thing happening on the daily, how do tell your kids that everything is going to work out if they do the right thing? You can’t. Instead, you teach them to persevere. To not base their results on someone else’s. To not look for shortcuts or quick fixes. And to never, ever listen to the naysayers.
Walt Disney was once fired for not being creative enough. The billion dollar empire built squarely on the shoulders of his creativity told the world differently. Had he succumbed to the doubters, millions of people might have missed out on the movies, the characters, and the experiences that only ‘the happiest place on Earth’ could provide.
Do not fall into the trap of tethering your self worth to your latest happenings. You’ve got to build that separately. Learn to trust and to believe. And always do your best despite the current events.
So the next time you hear your child set their alarm for 5am to practice, but still get benched for the big game, or when they’ve made the difficult choice to forego a day of shopping with friends to study, and still get a C – remind them that it might not have felt like it today, but something great IS happening behind the scenes. They’re building mettle, resilience, and persistence. No matter how hard we love them we can never teach those lessons. Those have to be earned. Know that your kids will take the lessons they’re learning from these painful experiences and apply them to their life.
The right people WILL notice and you will watch them soar. Maybe not today, but someday.
Someone once said to me, ‘the hardest thing in the world is watching your kids fall.’ I disagree. The hardest thing in the world is watching your kids fall… and then -against all motherly instincts – not running right over to rescue them. As difficult as it is, letting them flail, and sometimes even fail, is essential to shaping them as a person.
As kids’ venture out on their own in school, learning and chiseling their own personalities, what they need is our support, our guidance, our unconditional love. We can’t patrol their friendships 100% of the time. We can’t yell at every kid for leaving them out or calling them a name. Because those kids are always out there. Hell, those ADULTS are out there. People whose self esteem is such that they feed off the misery of others like some perverted host. As much as we want to, we cannot always be there. And being there all the time, for every little thing, cripples their ability to do it themselves. So what we can do is give our kids a soft place to land.
Remind them (and yourself):
- Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t going to work out, but it counts, even when no one is looking. Maybe more so, because it means its done from the heart not for show. And even if no one saw it, God did. And someone else felt it – you can bet on it.
- The world needs more empathy. There’s so much strength in kindness. Because it’s a lot easier to join in and leave someone out to secure your place in a group than it is to be the brave one who stands up for someone.
- Wake up every day and let each decision be one that tips the scales in favor of the greater good.
- What you’re doing matters, and it matters to so many.
Someone always wins. And if today that person doesn’t happen to be you, then pick yourself up, dust yourself off, get back in the ring, and try again tomorrow.
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