Chil­dren can be at their worst on fam­ily va­ca­tions

The Covington News - - Religion -


Why is it that chil­dren are of­ten the most ob­nox­ious and ir­ri­tat­ing on va­ca­tions and at other times when par­ents specif­i­cally try to please them? On those spe­cial days, you’d think the kids would say to them­selves, “Wow! Mom and Dad are do­ing some­thing re­ally nice for us, tak­ing us on this great va­ca­tion. We’re go­ing to give them a break and be re­ally good kids to­day.” Isn’t that rea­son­able?

Sure it’s rea­son­able, but chil­dren just don’t think that way. In fact, many boys and girls mis­be­have even more at th­ese times. Why is this? One rea­son, I think, is be­cause chil­dren of­ten feel com­pelled to re­ex­am­ine the bound­aries when­ever they think they may have moved. In other words, when­ever the nor­mal rou­tine changes, the tougher kids of­ten push the lim­its to see if the old rules still ap­ply.



Our 15-year-old daugh­ter is get­ting some rough treat­ment at the hands of her peers th­ese days. She wasn’t in­vited to a party given by a girl who had been her best friend, and she cried her­self to sleep that night. It’s just tear­ing me up to see her hurt like this. Will this ex­pe­ri­ence leave life­long scars on her mind?

It’s all a mat­ter of de­gree. Most teenagers ex­pe­ri­ence a mea­sure of re­jec­tion like your daugh­ter is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. They typ­i­cally roll with the punches and even­tu­ally get be­yond the dis­com­fort. Oth­ers, how­ever, are wounded for life by the re­jec­tion of those ado­les­cent ex­pe­ri­ences. I sug­gest you give your daugh­ter plenty of emo­tional sup­port, keep her talk­ing and do what you can to help her cope. I think she’ll get her legs un­der her when the pres­sure of th­ese years has passed.

Let me ad­dress the larger is­sue here. When we see our chil­dren strug­gling with the teen ex­pe­ri­ence or other frus­tra­tions, it’s nat­u­ral to wish we could sweep aside the prob­lems and ob­sta­cles. Some­times we have to be re­minded that the hu­man per­son­al­ity grows through ad­ver­sity. “No pain, no gain,” as they say. Those who have con­quered their prob­lems are more


se­cure than those who have never faced them.

I learned the value of hard times from my own ex­pe­ri­ence. Dur­ing my sev­enth and eighth grades, I lived through the most painful years of my life. I found my­self in a so­cial cross­fire that gave rise to in­tense feel­ings of in­fe­ri­or­ity and doubt. And yet those two years have con­trib­uted more qual­i­ties that are pos­i­tive to my adult per­son­al­ity than any other span of my life. What I learned through that ex­pe­ri­ence is still use­ful to me to­day.

Though it may be hard to ac­cept now, your child needs the mi­nor set­backs and dis­ap­point­ments that come her way. How can she learn to cope with prob­lems and frus­tra­tions if her early ex­pe­ri­ences are to­tally without trial? Na­ture tells us this is true. A tree that’s planted in a rain for­est is never forced to ex­tend its roots down­ward in search of wa­ter. Con­se­quently, it re­mains poorly an­chored and can be top­pled by even a moderate wind. By con­trast, a mesquite tree that’s planted in a dry desert is threat- ened by its hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment. It can only sur­vive by send­ing its roots down thirty feet or more into the earth, seek­ing cool wa­ter. But through this adap­ta­tion to an arid land, the well-rooted tree be­comes strong and steady against all as­sailants.

Our chil­dren are like the two trees in some ways. Those who have learned to con­quer their prob­lems are bet­ter an­chored than those who have never faced them.

Our task as par­ents, then, is not to elim­i­nate ev­ery chal­lenge for our chil­dren, but to serve as a con­fi­dent ally on their be­half, en­cour­ag­ing them when they are dis­tressed, in­ter­ven­ing when the threats are over­whelm­ing, and above all, giv­ing them the tools they need to over­come the ob­sta­cles.

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