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October 5, 2015

Fear Not Disappointment

Hal photo outside Feb2012It’s impossible to protect your kids against disappointment in life.” (Nicholas Sparks, Message in a Bottle)

Mr. Sparks is obviously right on this one, but it’s actually worse than that. It’s impossible to stop ourselves from actually introducing disappointment into our kids’ lives. We are fallible creatures, we often let our kids down with our own behavior, and it doesn’t take very long for them to figure this out.

So, should we just give up trying to protect our progeny from any of life’s disappointments, especially their own parents? “You might as well get used to it, kid—life’s a b—h, and so am I.”

Heaven forbid.

Parenting calls us to this paradoxical path of striving toward provision, protection, and preparation, all the while never pretending any of that will be perfect. Here’s what it can look like:

“I know you’re disappointed how this all turned out, son. And I’m guessing you’re even disappointed in how I handled things. For my part, I apologize. You deserve better leadership from me. You also deserve to know the truth, that life is often gonna turn out differently than you had hoped. That’s never a reason to give up hoping, though—in this family we always strive to get our hopes up, ‘cause disappointment is nothing to be afraid of.”

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