Every parent understands that your joy and sorrow rises and falls with your child. Your heart vacillates between those two extremes as your child faces tragedy and triumph.
You may be on top of your game at work, but if you get a call from the principal telling you your child just cheated on a test, you feel like an utter failure. You may be enjoying great health yourself, but when your child's pediatrician wants to run some tests to rule out a dreaded diagnosis, your lay awake nights worrying.
On the flip side, even if your own world is tumbling down, when you hear your child won first place in the spelling bee, your heart soars. When your previously broken-hearted child bounces into the room glowing with enthusiasm, your own troubles cease to matter.
The problem with this level of investment is that our commitment makes us emotionally vulnerable to the point of occasionally threatening our own stability. Parents must safeguard against losing their own perspective as they join kids in their highs and lows.
Our stability is one of the great gifts we give our children. As they’re tossed on the rocky sea of growing up, our confident perspective gives them the courage to face hardship. Because we’ve lived longer, we know that things generally work out. This knowledge gives our kids hope to endure the hard times.
And when our children are on top of the world with their own success, our unshakeable priorities anchor them, preventing them from getting too carried away with themselves. We join the celebration, but help keep their feet on the ground, recognizing that success is a time for gratitude, not gloating.
When our children are swayed in either direction, it’s up to us to manage our own feelings enough to project into our children’s future with courage and assurance that supersedes emotions.
It's a tall order for parents to be the perspective bearers at times when we keenly feel our own emotional responses to our kids' experiences. But when a child is securely anchored on stormy seas, he’ll sail confidently into his own future.