It was a blistery winter day and the snow fell fast on the porch before us. In our very southern town, those beautiful little snow flakes meant only one thing: everything was canceled. Because we see snow so rarely, we don’t have plows or salt trucks. No one here knows how to drive in flurries, much less snow that has collected on the ground. And most of us can’t tolerate any temperature below 40.
But none of that changed the disappointment in our hearts. We had been looking forward to an event for months and now it would be canceled indefinitely.
As we sat there silently eating breakfast, one of the wee voices piped up with truth. “Well we can’t control the weather, but we can control our attitudes. Let’s play Headbands!”
I had to smile at the wisdom of this little child. To be honest, I was fighting back the urge to be grumpy over the cancellation myself and I was glad that I had at one time taught him to always look at the bright side. In this moment, his bright side shined light on all of our hearts and it was precious.
Sadly, most parents I know don’t seize this opportunity. Instead they sneak around keeping events secret or making excuses to cover for things because something might not go as planned and they don’t want their kids to be disappointed.
Not me. Call me a bad mom if you wish, but I WANT my kids to be disappointed. I want them to learn that not everything in life is orchestrated to please them. And sometimes things just don’t happen the way we expect or plan.
I am so thankful my mom taught me this. I can’t imagine what I would have done any of the times when my life fell apart, but especially when my husband left. Well, actually I can imagine because I’ve met women who can’t cope. Their marriage falls apart or he leaves and every single thing in their life becomes a disaster.
Of course, I’m not saying life wasn’t hard for me when my husband left. I’m only saying that we have to play the hand we are dealt. We have to believe that God is sovereign, meaning He has good purpose in allowing this thing, whatever it may be, to happen.
That goes for the worst things in life (like divorce, death, and cancer) to the little things that derail us like a snow day, rain on our parade, or having a conflict with an event we really want to attend.
While our children are in our care we need to be about the business of teaching them how to navigate life when things don’t go the way we planned. It won’t always be pretty OR EASY for us, but that’s not what parenting is about- is it?
If we protect our kids from knowing this, we set them up for a lifetime of disappointment that they don’t know how to handle.
If we are too busy to attend an event, we need to be teaching our kids how to say no when we are too busy. If it doesn’t fit our family’s value system, we need to be teaching our kids why so they can discern as they get older, too. If the event is canceled, we need to help them graciously respond to the host instead of throwing a fit.
Obviously, this isn’t something that is going to be perfect for the average 4-year-old. But if you train them along the way, your older elementary child will easily handle a little disappointment. And you might even find them encouraging your heart along the way, too.
Remember, the Word commands us to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). How can we do this if we are always hiding things from our kids in an effort to protect them? The truth is- we can’t. We can only give them a one-sided picture of “giving thanks” for the things we enjoy.
Is this issue of being content and rejoicing in all things a problem in your home? (Ok, who doesn’t have this issue? Haha) I think you might enjoy A Content Heart. It’s a Bible study written just for this purpose. Check it out here.