Frustration, although quite painful at times,
is a very positive and essential part of success.
One of the most difficult things I find about parenting is how to comfort and encourage my children when they are frustrated. In the beginning I learned to soothe a colicky infant with long walks or car rides, later calming a screaming toddler by the art of distraction and a bag of M&M’s. As the kids grew older I got really good at (white) lying through my teeth to an unsuspecting five year-old or promising ice cream to make it “all better”. I even got pretty good at convincing the 10 year-old, with positive words and trusting eyes that everything was going to be ok when I knew in my heart it really wouldn’t.
Those tactics and all the parental negotiating tools I developed over the years pretty much went out the window recently. No longer can I convince my children to look at the glass half-full all the time or jump through that new door when the old one they had their heart set on, closed. I often find myself struggling for the right words, or rather the right words at the exact right time to help my frustrated children through the challenges and obstacles of growing up.
But just as we all get frustrated at times, we also learn as we grow up to accept those frustrations and push through coming out a better person on the other side. Or we wallow in our misery and let the sadness engulf our life, each and every minute of every day. I know I’ve been on both ends of that spectrum. I remember vividly the pain and anguish I felt as a young child, teen and young adult when I was faced with struggles or stressful situations I didn’t know how to control. It wasn’t until much later in life I realized these painful times were in fact molding me into the adult woman I have become.
Heart breaks, friendships lost or forgotten, a parent’s divorce, failed interviews or college acceptance letters, a family suicide…all moments in my life that caused great frustration and sadness, anger and disappointment. But looking back, it’s how I reacted to each situation that created the person I am today. We all have regrets, we all wish we could change something at some point in our lives, and it’s ignorant to think my kids won’t make the same mistakes and poor choices along the way. But one thing I do tell them is that they have a choice with every roadblock in their life. It is not possible to ignore or wish away these stumbling blocks but it is our job to choose how we are going to react to each struggle. And it is with that choice that will define the person they will become.
As parents, we can only do so much. But I do hope my kids choose frustrated successes over frustrated failures.