I was speaking to a friend who recently moved to Israel with her family. When speaking about how things are going so far, she commented that she’s concerned that it will be hard for her kids.
I responded, “It will be hard for your kids.” Does this sound like I was trying to depress her?
My intention was just the opposite. A parent has to know and accept the reality before he can face it head on. You can have a great attitude, your kids can have a great attitude – but that doesn’t mean it won’t be hard. It’s very challenging to move to a new place and make new friends, and much, much harder when you have to do it all in a new language with a different culture to navigate.
A parent needs to be able to validate to his child what the child’s experience is. Sometimes we’re uncomfortable seeing a child struggle so we minimize the difficulties he is facing. It’s really a bad idea to try to assuage our own discomfort by telling a child to have a good attitude and smile, or doing anything else to minimize what he’s experiencing.
Parents often have the mistaken idea that our job is to make our children happy. It’s not. There’s no way to smooth every potential bump our children may face, and even if we could, we would be crippling them emotionally by removing challenge from their lives.
Our job is to help our children develop the tools to deal with life’s ups and downs. They grow by facing tough times with our active support – combined with our trust in their ability to come out of the other side of a hard situation stronger and happier.