It's only natural as a parent to want to give our children everything and protect them from anything that could possibly hurt. But we need to be mindful that they actually learn from the situations that don't go their way.
As adults we have become the masters of our own destiny. Our parents should not - and I hope do not - call up our bosses to complain that someone at work has been mean to us, or reprimand the bank manager because we didn't get the loan we wanted.
We need to accept that sometimes a person with a similar goal to us might 'get the gong' we so desperately wanted - a job, a promotion, an award or similar. Missing out may be a hard pill to swallow, but persistence is the skill that will help you ultimately achieve and that achievement will be even sweeter.
The lessons we learn in our childhood about persistence, patience, respect, working hard for a goal, consideration of others, gracious acceptance when things don't go our way, teamwork and the like will play an important role in how we cope as adults.
One of the best things we can do for our children is guide them through these emotions so that they are well equipped. To be honest, I think this is one of the hardest parenting skills I have had to embrace - I haven't always stayed on task, but I have constantly pulled myself back to the task.
I have had to remind myself that giving a child everything they want, as soon as they want it leads to unrealistic expectations and a constant desire for instant gratification - there is no long-lasting joy in that at any age.
As an adult if you can't afford something you can't have it - you have to work hard and save for what you want and that leads to a greater appreciation and value for what you achieve. We cope with this better when we learn the skill of patience as a child.
Jumping in to defend your child in every scrap or disagreement they have can be equally harmful. Of course you want your child to let you know what is going on - and it is going to hurt hearing that someone is being mean to your precious little one - but in most cases another parent is hearing the same story from their child's perspective and that parent is also feeling the hurt.
One of the best things a parent can do is talk their child through to help them develop skills that will best serve them to overcome the problem. This is not a perfect science, but it is a skill that will serve them well in many instances. For the record, some of my children's greatest nemesis in childhood are now their closest friends. That may not have happened if the parents of the respective children had jumped in to overrule the situation.
This doesn't dismiss the reality that sometimes a parent needs to speak up for the safety of their child. Just like in the big wide world, where there are laws in place for the safety of all and professionals who regulate those laws, a parent may at times need to be the voice of reason to draw attention to misdemeanours. The operative words here are 'voice of reason'.
All of my children have at some time or another complained about a teacher or a person at school - and each situation has been dealt with on its merits.
There was one occasion, when as a 'hard-to-please 15-year-old', my daughter complained about a teacher on three consecutive days. Each day it was a different teacher and each day it was a different complaint.
By day three I'd had enough. Of course each time my first instinctive feeling was "why would anyone pick on my little Angel". However, sanity prevailed and it became clear that in every case my child was whinging because the respective teacher's expectations for the whole class were not to my child's liking.
I think my response shocked her back to a reality where we all need to work cohesively. My response shocked me too, because I pushed my over-protective instinct aside to deliver some facts of life that would serve her well in adulthood. It went something like this:
"Your teachers have to manage up to 30 children in every class. They have put rules and expectations in place to ensure the overall smooth running of things and to hopefully educate you. You have to spend only a few hours each week with each teacher so if they require you to be at the door when the bell goes, or to sit in a particular spot, then do it. It's easier for 30 students to follow one teacher's rules than it is for the teacher to fit in with the varying behaviours of 30 students." I wrapped up with "When you go into the big wide world you are going to have to follow the guidelines set out by managers and customers, so start learning this skill now."
She never complained about a teacher again. And she has managed to fit in comfortably in the adult world of new rules and expectations.
Mumma Jak has three children and is familiar with the challenges of parenthood. She is well aware that every child is different, every day can be different and a parent's approach needs to be different according to the situation at hand. She is happy to say she fumbled through, motivated from the perfect starting point - unconditional love. The good news is that all three of her children have become normal functioning adults.
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