- Published on Tuesday, 14 September 2010 13:08
Submitted by Shara Lawrence-Weiss
In my parent’s generation it was understood that children should be kept from hearing, or seeing, difficult situations: financial, marriage, family, etc. Our parents did this in an attempt to keep our hearts from breaking. They wanted to protect us.
With protection, however, comes a bit of head burial. Much like an Ostrich with his head in the sand. The difficult circumstances still exist but the Ostrich cannot see them - temporarily. When the head is pulled out of the sand, though, the aftermath of the circumstances may well bring a bit of shock to the poor fellow.
---> What? Huh? What happened to my food? It was right there, just a moment ago!
Parenting could well be viewed this way, also: if we attempt to protect our children from every difficult situation, they might be left wondering: “What the heck happened? How do I deal with this NOW?”
Consider the following hypothetical situation
Your father is upset because it’s been a long day. He’s just tired. Everything is fine. Go to bed now and tomorrow will be a new day! You’re fine right? Good night, kiddo. Love you!
But…I know something is wrong. I can feel it. I can sense it. Dad used to be more laid back and easy going. Have I done something wrong? Why does he hate me now? What can I do to make it right?
Now consider this hypothetical situation:
Hey, kiddo. We know you are wondering what’s going on. We’ll be honest with you. Your dad lost his job this week. The company downsized and several daddies were left wondering what to do. It’s not easy for your dad right now. He feels as though he’s let us all down. We may need to reconsider how we’ve been spending money and I might need to get another job for a while. That will cause some stress on the family but we’re going to work hard to be positive, have faith that everything will work out, and keep the lines of communication open. We’ll plan a fun day out, together, soon – like a picnic at the park. This won’t be easy but we’ll pull through. We always do.
This makes sense. Of course dad is feeling bad and now I get it. I’m glad it wasn’t me or anything I did. Yeah – let’s go to the park soon!
By giving our children age-appropriate skills needed to talk through situations, we’ll help them for the short term and for the long term. No family (single parent, two parent, or otherwise) gets through life without any difficult circumstances. This is not logical or feasible. The key is to demonstrate an ability to communicate, feel, empathize and work through the difficult times. If our children see that hard times come, yes - but can be worked through as a team - they’ll be ready for successful adulthood.
ABOUT the Author:
Shara Lawrence-Weiss is the owner of Mommy Perks, Personal Child Stories, Early Childhood News and Resources and Kids Perks. She has a background in education, early childhood, nanny work, published freelance, marketing and special needs.