Parenting gets harder in many ways as our children age. While they are little, we can largely control their environment and outcomes. As they begin to enter the world without us by their sides, the control we once had lessens. Vulnerabilities and risk for adversity grows along side them. No one can prepare us for these hardest years, but we can do our best to prepare and guide our children.
As a family, we recently shared the aftermath of feelings from adversity my son experienced. Getting sick during track tryouts couldn’t have been worse timing. A two year goal was crushed when strep fastened my son to his bed, unable to attend the most important day of tryouts. No concessions were made and he was heartbroken. When your child’s heart breaks, your own heart breaks a million times more. Upon opening the text he sent from school, all I wanted to do was run over and rescue him from the crushing news. When his sister found out, she too hurt for her brother, as did my husband. But therein lies the silver lining. Adversity is a necessary evil, preparing us for other challenging times we have yet to face. Our son would get through this and be a stronger, more determined individual as a result.
Moments matter. And in the moments when he came home from school and wanted to hide, we asked him to let us in. What started out as a “I am never going to run again,” turned into a run with a smile the next afternoon. My son and I bonded as we ran three miles for the first time together. We challenged our son’s thinking and shed light on what seemed hopeless:
– You have been gifted a year to really decide if you truly want to be on the track team.
– You have been gifted a year to beat your personal best time over and over and over.
– You have been gifted another year to really show the coaches that you are who they want on their team.
As a family, a beautiful opportunity opened up to reinforce to our children, as well as remind ourselves, that we are as strong and determined as we allow ourselves to be. Adversity can be a positive experience for our children if we show them why:
– It can increase determination.
– It helps them understand what others are going through, allowing greater empathy.
– It can help them set goals instead of just expecting things to work out.
– It can help them learn about their emotions and how they handle them.
– It can create greater bonds amongst family and friends.
– It can teach them self-reflection instead of blaming others.
Adversity is something that we all will experience for the rest of our lives. It sometimes brushes against us, while other times it grips our entire being. The strength and resilience that come from those difficult places are invaluable. Teaching our children how to deal with it now will only give them the tools to graciously and intentionally handle it as they grow. Life isn’t fair and it certainly is unpredictable. It’s all about turning towards positivity.
Just as running strengthens our muscles, adversity strengthens our minds. While I want my kids to get everything they want, I know that they need to experience adversity (even from their own parents). They will grow into admirable adults who will be able to cope and thrive in any situation. So here’s to letting go a little more each year, allowing them to experience risk and adversity. My heart hurts for them already, but I know in the end they will shine.
So do I wish my son wasn’t sick during tryouts, of course. Strep better stay away next year! But I am grateful for the teaching opportunity that arose from the situation.