Sunday, September 28, 2014

Learning to Cope

I sometimes hear parents say “I just want you to be happy” to their children. I hear other parents say that a good spanking will teach respect. Let me begin by saying I do not agree with either of these beliefs. Trying to make your children happy all the time, will give you an adult child who is frustrated because their life is complicated and they do not know how to deal with it. Spanking in my opinion, only teaches children that it is okay for a grown up to harm them. It does not teach respect, it teaches fear. It all begins when they are young. They cry and we want to stop their sadness. They throw a tantrum in the grocery store and we immediately remove them from the situation. Whether they get hurt or they do the hurting, they are learning. Children are learning and look to us for guidance. We need to teach them to cope. You cannot be happy all of the time, and you set your child up to fail by the desire to make it all better for them all of the time. We all experience joy, happiness and love. But we also experience sadness, disappointment, anger and grief. Without acknowledging these feelings as being just as important as happiness, we give our children a great disadvantage in life. We have given them the expectation that everything will work out and run smoothly throughout their whole lifetime, but haven’t given them the tools to make it work out. Only by teaching them to cope with every emotion, can we honestly say we have done a good job in giving them the foundation they need to get through life. By promoting only happiness, we have set them up to fail. I, like everyone else, fell into that habit in the beginning of my parenting, but having a child that had her own different needs taught me the lessons I need to learn about life not always being pleasant and happy. Emotion is energy in motion, and we have to equip our children with the tools they need to understand and deal with every one of them. Life is messy, but it is also a beautiful, intricate, sometimes exhausting but also exhilarating experience. And when you learn to navigate it rather than always trying to be “happy”, it is a more fulfilling experience.

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