How to Respond to Today’s Disappointments

Especially Graduations, Proms, and Sports

SYLVIA McCRORY     MAY 2020

During the coronavirus quarantine, many young people have been missing out on their graduations, proms, and sports events. Although, this is disappointing, and not what anyone wanted, it is not necessarily a bad thing. 

Unlike many disappointments, no one is facing this alone.  The world understands how hard this must be for our young people. Some young people were counting on being signed by colleges or getting athletic scholarships. Other young people have worked hard to graduate at the top of their class, with dreams of delivering a commencement speech.  Still others have dreamed of wearing beautiful gowns to their prom, envisioning the look on the face of their date as they were adorned with their finest.  These events will not happen as most had dreamed.  

If your child is one of these and having a hard time coping with these disappointments, do not placate them or try to make the pain go away. 

Mr. Rogers once said, “When a child learns to trust that there is a loving caregiver right there to help in rough times, he or she can weather most any storm – and ultimately be stronger for the experience.” (Mister Rogers Talks with Parents) Do not make light of their disappointment.  Show understanding and empathy for the way they are feeling. Statements like:

I wish you didn’t have to go through this

No wonder you’re upset

I am on your side

These statements express your love and concern for what your child is going through without attempting to take their pain go away.

Disappointment is an emotion, just like sadness, or grief.  These emotions are not pleasant to experience; however, they are part of life and necessary for everyone to feel, especially our children.  Can you imagine going through life yourself with no disappointments, no sadness, or grief?  You might think it would make you have a wonderful life, but just the opposite is usually the case.  Without the disappointments, we tend to forget to be grateful for the times things are good. We tend to lose our motivation to rise above a bad situation. 

Children need to learn how to deal with life’s disappointments.  They need to know parents cannot and will not take away all their pain or discomfort.  Part of growing into a healthy adult is learning how to deal with life’s letdowns.  

In Let Your Athletes Be Disappointed, Jim Taylor reports, “How your children learn to respond to disappointment will determine its impact on their future achievement and happiness. You can teach your children to see stumbling blocks as opportunities to improve and grow.” He further states, “Childhood disappointment is actually a practice lap on the course to adulthood. If you run interference whenever disappointment threatens, you’re setting kids up to run a marathon without ever letting them train for it.” 

I also feel these are good times to encourage your children to begin a volunteer project for someone less fortunate than themselves. Teenagers typically have tunnel vision and can only see their own world.  Many times, they have a hard time seeing a world of needy or disadvantaged people.  Encourage your teenager to do their own research and decide a way to help others.  Challenge your child to discover ways to bring glory to God in their project. Be supportive but give them control of the project.  When left to their own devices, they will usually step up and accomplish wonderful acts. 

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