The ability to recover from a setback is one of the keys to a happy life.
I hear Ethan half crying saying, “Mom its 6:48; why didn’t you wake us up?” In my foggy sleepiness, I realize 6:48 is not 5:48 and I jump out of bed silently cursing everything from my dog who ALWAYS wakes me up too early to the Astros and Dodgers that I fell asleep watching. However, I am, deep down, flipping off my ex for being an emotional, immature, selfish cheater. (Yes, I am aware that I sound like a resentful angry bitch-and I am ok with this persona).
Right away the morning went from bad to worse. Ethan couldn’t find anything to wear, Logan couldn’t find his backpack, Mason took too long in the shower. The dog threw up and the cat tried to bring a dead bunny inside the house. The waffles got stuck in the toaster setting off the fire alarm and I was out of coffee and diet coke.
Just when I thought I would be waving the white flag; things changed. Ethan would wear a shirt of Logan’s. Logan knew a second bus stop that they could probably make if they ran through the neighbor’s yard. Mason put his socks and shoes on in the car. They all agreed to eat Goldfish and salami for breakfast. And the best part: the dog scared the cat who dropped the dead bunny and so I got the dog outside and the cat inside with little to no carnage (thankfully the dog does not like rabbit).
We have choices: we can decide we are beaten and broken or we can see we are survivors and successful.
The fact is that all four of us got dressed, hair combed, teeth brushed, inhaled food, took medicines, and made it to our destination. The fact is we returned from a weekend soccer tournament as champions. The fact is my oldest son was in on a surprise from my neighbors/dear friends to cut down a dead tree that I had not the money nor time to take care of. The fact is my sons see that being a single mom isn’t easy, but so far, I have met the challenges.
I tried for years to hide the struggle. I did my best to keep the house as clean as possible, to host parties and sleepovers, to play outside and to get them to every practice, to keep good food in the fridge and to cook homemade healthy dishes for dinner, to make time for snuggling and reading books, and to go on family vacations and create new family traditions. But sometimes, I let them see me feeling overwhelmed.
Even if my kids end up in happy, healthy two-parent relationships, there will be times that life appears to be a bit too much. The truth of the matter is that performing well as a professional, a committed partner, a responsible homeowner, and a dedicated parent isn’t easy. If it was, half of the sitcoms on television would have never existed.
What kids need to see is resilience.
And resilience is a painful process because it requires failure which feels terrible and then rebounding which means struggle and finally success which only comes from getting good at something. We also must not make the mistake of letting our kids believe that resiliency is the same as thriving. If I do not show my kids my frustration, disappointment, and stress then I am cheating them of knowing how terrible it feels to fail. Humans are emotional for a reason. How many wise sages, winning coaches, and successful businessmen must there be saying the same, “Success always starts with failure” before we listen?
My failure is that I still find myself not accepting my mistake: I married a man who cheated and left his family. To accept means getting over my ego, knowing that this is not the end of the world and that I absolutely can continue to adapt, becoming stronger and smarter. For a valedictorian, varsity athlete, who graduated Magna Cum Laude with undergraduate and graduate degrees, this has been my main struggle.
Blaming my ex is complete bullshit.
Blame means I have not created a better approach: I haven’t become innovative, and I haven’t tried to seek creative ways of making things work for myself and my sons.
No, I don’t have a partner to help me out, but I have something better: true grit.
Parents tend to identify their children by their strengths and the activities that come naturally to them. They say their child is “a math person,” a “people person,” or “an artist.” But research by Stanford University’s Carol Dweck shows that this mindset actually boxes your child into a persona, and makes them less likely to want to try new things that they may not be good at.
When a kid receives praise primarily for being athletic, for example, they’re less likely to want to leave their comfort zone and try out for drama club. This can make them more anxious and depressed when faced with failure or challenges. Why? Because they believe that if they encounter obstacles in a given area, that make them “not good at” the activity.
But our brains are wired to learn new things. And it can only be a good thing to learn from our mistakes while we’re young. So instead of identifying your child’s strengths, teach them that they actually can learn anything—as long as they try. Research by Dweck, author of best-selling book Mindset, shows children will then be more optimistic and even enthusiastic in the face of challenges, knowing that they just need to give it another go to improve. And they will be less likely to feel down about themselves and their talents.
Therefore teaching your child to be resilient and rebound from a failure is so important.
The ability to recover from a setback is one of the keys to a happy life. Instead, we place blame, tell ourselves it cannot be helped, or present our other our feelings about our failures ow failure feels nor how success is gained. In fact, if you
Author Dr. Selin Malkoc, a professor of marketing at The Ohio University, said: “All the advice tells you not to dwell on your mistakes, to not feel bad. But we found the opposite.”
“When faced with a failure, it is better to focus on one’s emotions – when people concentrate on how bad they feel and how they don’t want to experience these feelings again, they are more likely to try harder the next time.”