How many times do we tell our children, “Just do your best.” And we watch, anxiously seeing if they can make that A on a test, score the winning basket, make 1st chair in the band. And it happens. A child practices, works hard – but falls short. They probably don’t feel great at that moment, but a parent’s job is to love them through the disappointments and help them to realize their greatness isn’t wrapped up in their performance but in their place as a follower of Jesus.
All too often today parents don’t want their children to experience defeat. I get it. I’m a Momma. It hurts way down deep when your child hurts. And I’ve surely been guilty of a little overprotection now and again. But if we never let our children experience defeat, how will they ever handle real life defeats? Job losses, troubled marriages, unexpected illnesses?
Yesterday I wrote about a painful defeat in the state JV basketball tournament. It hurt. But no parent ran out onto the court, demanded another period of play or tried to pay a ref for better calls (oh you can trust me on that one – don’t even get me started). Every child, every teenager, every adult will experience hardships and losses. And if we continue to shield our children instead of teaching them how to handle the losses and where their true identity lies, well I feel real sorry for this future generation.
How do we handle defeat in our home? We give our children time to get it all out at home – the “safe zone” we call it. They can say whatever they want (within reason) and throw up all the emotions at home. Let’s call it a mini-pity-party. We give them that time because we don’t believe it’s healthy to squash emotions – they will erupt sooner or later and we’d rather that eruption be at home.
Then we regroup. We talk about what happened in a more reasonable way. We focus on the positives and learn from the mistakes. And we teach our children to get up and keep going – defeat has no place in their lives. Defeat comes from the enemy, and if he can get them to think they aren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough – well you know where that leads them. And as long as I’m breathing my family isn’t going to travel down that road, hand in hand with the defeat satan is throwing our way.
We aren’t perfect parents by any stretch of the imagination. But we do believe that losses come and we aren’t going to shield our children from those losses nor will we wallow in them. We are going to learn from them. And we trust that God’s plan is the best plan, whether we win or lose, whether we understand it at the time or not.
So go cheer your kids on – gosh knows I do. I’m loud and proud at any competition they are in – just ask them (or the people who refuse to sit near me anymore). But don’t shield them from defeat. Trust God to have the best plan, the best outcome already in place and teach your children to do the same.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5