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Carrying Your Children's Disappointment
You know those stories you sometimes hear about the hockey dad who kills the coach that benched his kid, or the cheerleading mom who kills her daughter's rival? I'm beginning to understand them.

Not that I would ever do it, mind you. But lately my children have had some disappointments, and it is very, very hard to watch your children cry and not be able to do a thing about it.

Of course, these parents' problems are that they're living their dreams through their kids, and there's a whole lot of psychopathology going on.

But in the normal course of our lives, our kids are going to be disappointed, left out, bullied, or laughed at. And that can be very hard for a mother to watch.

My own girls were in a competition this weekend. I won't go into details, because I don't think they'd want me to, but neither did as well as she had hoped. They both did extremely well; in the top 8 or 9% actually. But that wasn't what they were aiming for. And they had studied so hard, and prepped so much, and it was hard to watch them.

Of course, one of the reasons I think they started to flub things in the afternoon was because this virus was hitting, so it's hardly their fault. But that sometimes makes it even worse.

When your child is hurting, we want to say, "there, there. It doesn't really matter. I love you anyway." But what if it does matter? What if it is a big deal, and you can't really talk them down? I know disappointment is a part of life, and they're both actually handling it very well now, but my first instinct, when I saw them hurt like this, was to think, "let's just chuck it all! Let's not try anymore! Nothing is worth this kind of hurt!"

Now that's the wrong attitude as well. Disappointment is a part of life. Sometimes we're going to reach our goals, and sometimes we're not. And everybody has to get used to that. But when your child is crying and saying, "I'm a failure", or "I'm just not good enough", it's hard.

I prayed with them, and that helped. And with some time and some sleep they really have come around. But that's the part of parenting I hate most.

A friend of mine has a darling 6-year-old boy who really is a nice kid. But all the other boys that age in the neighbourhood leave him out, or when he does play with them, they pick on him. Now only 2 boys really are bullies; the other boy is a nice kid, and has been friends with my little friend for years. But he's siding with the bullies.

So here my friend is, watching her son be left out by some really mean little boys, and there's nothing she can do. That's when you want to go tell their parents a piece of your mind, or tell the kids a piece of your mind. But you don't, because it wouldn't help and might make things worse. So you sit there, watching your child be marginalized, and there's nothing you can do.

I think what I have realized over the last few days is that the children's disappointment often affects me more than it does them. They cry and moan for a little while, but then they move on, whereas I carry these scars with me. It reminds me of the movie The Passion, where you see Mary remembering picking Jesus up when He was a little boy and He fell down, and then it fast forwards to the present where she watches Him be whipped and flogged, and then gets down on her hands and knees and wipes up the blood.

That scene really hit me. Just the helplessness we can feel as parents. Obviously Mary's helplessness was exponentially more than mine, but that truth that "a sword will pierce your own soul, too", that was told to Mary, is probably true for all of us parents. We love them so much that when they hurt, we hurt, too. Sometimes we hurt even more.

So perhaps the lesson from our children's disappointments is not so much how they can learn to cope with them, but how we can. And I don't think I've quite discovered the answer yet. If anyone has any tips, please share them!

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To Love, Honor and Vacuum



At 11:41 AM , Blogger Sarah DeVries said…

Wow, Sheila, I have yet to encounter this with my daughters as they are only 15 months and 3 months. I remember being in your little friend's situation myself when I was small, and I don't remember my mom seeming to be too upset. Over timed I learned to be thick-skinned, and to look for better friends in less likely places. I know God will give you the grace to cope "hands-off", and your kids will be stronger for it.


At 1:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Oh do I understand. My DD was in a regional spelling bee two weeks ago. If she won it she would go to the national bee. Now this is her topic. She would read the dictionary for fun because she liked to learn new words. That was how she learned to read. (boy I miss homeschooling) So she was really excited about the opportunity and so were her father and I. What happened? First word up she blanked. She missed one letter in the word and that was it bee over for her. I sat in the audience feeling so helpless. I saw the disappointment on her face and I couldn't go to her until the bee was over. I just wanted to hug her close. Honestly she took it better than I did. I even said that to my husband that day. I said, "How can this bother me more than her?" Don't get me wrong she was crushed but I more so. And I think what it was is as parents we have this huge desire to give our children the best of everything. When we can't we feel we're letting them down. The thing is that is a flaw in our thinking as parents. Usually our children bounce back and are better for the experience. Although it hurts the tough times are necessary. We could really use to learn from their example. We have to learn to not let the world disappoint us...because it always will. Instead turn to the Lord and find the JOY in the situation. I've taught my children since they were small to look for the joy in whatever they're going through. So do you know what my DD said to me after the bee? She said, "Mom the joy in losing is that it will help me to accept rejections as a writer one day. Those rejections that come when you think you got it in the bag." All I could say is wow. She had such insight for 14. I would have never thought of it that way. It was true though we all thought she had the bee in the bag. God chose to humble us all that day though and taught us a valuable lesson. So I do believe the times when our children are hurting are excellent times to look inward and upward for His guidance/lesson. And of course JOY. :)


At 11:33 PM , Blogger Nancy said…

I never knew the real meaning of the word "heartache" until I had children. There have been times when my heart literally hurt for the pain they were going through. They do seem to handle it better than we, thankfully.


At 12:11 PM , Blogger Tiffany said…

I recently came across your blog and have really enjoyed it! I could not have read this post at a better time. My two-month-old just got his first rounds of immunization shots a couple of days ago. While I knew it was going to be difficult, I had no idea it would be that bad. I think it hurt me as much if not more than him. I agree with Nancy, I now know true heartache! And that was just a shot! I don't know how I will handle the bigger disappointments that come into his life.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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