My son and I were watching "American Ninja Warrior" the other night on TV. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s an obstacle course for the strongest, most agile, most highly-skilled athletes. During the episode, they showed a clip from last year of one of the “veterans” that everyone was sure would move on to the last round but he surprised everyone by being disqualified on the second element. The guy was devastated and in such a state of shock that he struggled to overcome his disappointment. Even after several months had passed, his friends said he wasn’t the same person and wanted to give up. He literally could not seem to pull his life back together. Then, he started receiving fan mail and it was the messages he received from many kids that gave him the push he needed to turn his life around. The kids still considered him a role model and wrote that everyone messes up, everyone makes mistakes, and he should keep going. This motivated him to continue training and he excelled on the course this year. He came back a calmer, more grounded athlete.
In parenting, I have always found that one of the most important lessons to teach my kids is that life isn’t fair, life will throw us challenges AND we can get through them and recover. We try so hard to protect our kids from life’s bumps and bruises but in the end, we’re usually doing them more harm than good. We like to think that it’ll all work out fine but the reality is, sometimes it won't. And then what? What skills do they have to bounce back? I’d rather help them learn to face life’s challenges and help them get through it at an early age than to shield them until they must deal with the much more difficult and consequential challenges during HS or adulthood. As my husband and I joke, find a reason to disappoint your kids everyday. My husband forwarded an article on to me, “6 Things I Wish I Had Never Told My Kids,” that I think captures these “false” life lessons perfectly. We can all learn from them.
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