When They Hurt, I Hurt Too
There’s a common saying that we are only as happy as our saddest child. I think it’s an ideal that most parents take to heart. If our child is hurting, we hurt too. After all, we only want the very best for them. That’s just part of loving someone.
As you all know, I’ve been blessed with three (now adult) children and am now raising my second family, my biological grandson. Although parenting hasn’t been all sunshine and roses for me, I’ve always tried my best. Really, that’s all we can do.
With that said, parenting the second time around, I’ve noticed a lot about my evolving parental philosophy. The first go around, I wanted my kids to have the perfect childhood. I wanted their childhood to resemble the Waltons, not the Simpsons, so I turned myself into a pretzel trying to make things perfect. No sacrifice was too much.
The Importance of Resilience
This time around, I’ve realized the importance of resilience. I can’t make life perfect for this little guy. From an early age, he’s had to understand things like adoption, abandonment, abuse, and mental illness. He’s always going to have to explain to others why he calls his Mom, Grandma. More so than that, he’ll probably always have to prove that he is happy, competent, and well-adjusted because people will always assume he’s somehow broken by his birth story.
So I can’t make things perfect. I can, however, teach him resiliency. I can be both a model and a guide.
This leads me back to my initial thought, about being only as happy as our saddest child. On the surface, that seems to be the right thing to do. In fact, we often define ourselves as being “good” or “bad” parents based upon whether our children are happy and successful or not.
But what about growth? We all know from experience that transitions are often tough, sometimes downright ugly. Still, that process is key to becoming happy and successful.
Okay, what about illness? We all get sick sometimes. Generally, the quicker we accept that we are ill and we take action (get rest, go to the doctor, etc), the more we quickly we heal.
Coming from these perspectives, modeling resiliency seems a better option than denying reality. After all, do we really want our children to “lose it” every single time life isn’t running completely smooth? OMG, I’ve got a cold. That’s so unfair. Mommy, make it go away.
Do we really want them to be afraid to step out of their comfort zone? I’d really like to take this job opportunity but I might fail so I’ll stay where I am. I think this relationship is abusive but since he says it’s my imagination I guess he must be right.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that resiliency allows us to see that sometimes in life things aren’t perfect or pretty. Personally, I don’t think things have to be perfect in order for life to be worth living. Sometimes, we need to take a leap of faith to go beyond our current way of being. Sometimes, we have to work through difficult experiences in order to heal.
Yes, short term these experiences are difficult. Ultimately though, that discomfort might be leading to something more. So, when it comes down to it, shouldn’t we be cheering about the potential of that something more rather than focusing on the temporary hurt?