No More Pity Parties
Nobody likes to see their kids get hurt. Every parent would like to think that it’s possible for them to help their child make it through life with no hardships, no disappointments, and no failures. We know, of course, that it isn’t true, but sometimes we still act as though it is possible.
Bad things happen to good people…even our own kids. But when they do, one of the worst things we can do for them (or to them) is to feel sorry for them. Even when it’s logical, it doesn’t make things better, and can actually make things worse for our kids in the long run.
Kids are very attuned to our emotions. With their little radars, they pick up signals that we may not even know we’re sending. If they sense that we feel sorry for them, then they think that’s the right attitude, that they should feel sorry for themselves. Instead of acknowledging how he’s feeling, then doing some problem solving to consider his options and courageously taking a step forward, he’s more likely to get stuck in a pity party for himself. And the more a person focus on what’s wrong and what’s not working and what’s not fair, the more consumed by all of these things that person becomes. It can then be a huge mountain to climb to get back to a place of neutrality and optimism. This attitude can carry far beyond childhood too – as Rudolph Dreikurs says in Children: The Challenge, “He can become convinced that the world owes him something in recompense for what he misses. Instead of doing when he can, he counts on what others will do for him.”
I saw a woman on t.v. years ago, who was born without arms. She was a young woman, and a mom herself, and there was footage of her diapering and feeding her kids with her feet. She said that her own mother made a decision when this woman was born, that she would not pity her or do for her what she could do for herself — that the greatest gift she could give her was the gift of competence. And this young lady said that her mom admitted that sometimes it was excruciating for her to watch her daughter struggle when she could so easily help her, but she knew that she would be doing her daughter no favours if she taught her to rely on the assistance and pity of others, when, with practice and perseverance, she did have the ability to take care of herself.
A perfect example of courage and encouragement in action.
Kids can learn to not only cope with, but also overcome, disappointment and adversity if we show them that we believe they can. Our pity can handicap their success later in life. Encouragement and support all contribute to a happy life for our kids, much more than our feeling sorry for them does.