When Life Is Unfair for Your Child



Wow, is it hard to see your child hurt.

This past week was a celebration of Dr. Seuss at Austin’s school. Each day held a different activity with fun ways to dress up.

Thursday night all he talked about was the pancake breakfast they were going to have the next day with green eggs and ham. First thing Friday morning he bounded down the stairs eagerly sharing how delicious his teacher’s pancakes would be.

Fast forward 8 hours later. He runs into the office after school sobbing his little heart out. The teacher decided to not have the breakfast because the class had not behaved well enough to earn it. He felt devastated.

I often find myself stunned at my initial reactions. The mama bear in me came out. My Austin is a well behaved student, and I had a strong feeling he would have earned the breakfast left to his own devices. I dreamed up what I would say to his teacher, criticizing her for punishing the whole class when surely some of the kids had earned the special treat.

Then I took a step back. I’ve been in the teacher’s place before. I know sometimes you have to teach a hard lesson, and the innocent sometimes have to suffer (although I tried to avoid that as much as possible). My husband and I talked and agreed that this was an important lesson for Austin to learn. Sometimes we have to roll with the punches, even when they seem unfair. We will often be at the mercy of the poor decisions of those around us, for example his classmates that chose not to follow the rules.

Parents are quick to rush in and rescue their children these days. I job-shared with another teacher during my first teaching job. There was a particular student she had a hard time with, although I never did. She tried to punish him by keeping him in from recess and his parents came and purposefully picked him up during the lunch/recess hour so he wouldn’t have to serve his punishment. Talk about undermining authority! I knew that even if the punishment was undeserved, this kind of action could only set him up for failure in some way in the future.

We want to rescue our kids, but learning the lesson and experiencing the struggle can often be more valuable than comfort.

So, we reached a compromise. We don’t have a lot of control over what happens at school, but we do have control over what happens at home. Austin indeed needed a celebration. He works hard, obeys, and makes good choices.

Let me share with you some pictures from our Dr. Seuss celebration breakfast.

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We turned tears into smiles with just a little creativity. We read Green Eggs and Ham and The Sneetches. Joshua shared with us facts he had learned over the years studying Dr. Seuss in school. That boy’s mind is like a steel trap! Did you know Seuss wrote Green Eggs and Ham because someone bet him he couldn’t write a book using 50 unique words? It became his best-selling book ever, and the person who made the bet never paid up. Oh, and I learned the ham we served should have been green, too. Minor fail.

I hope Austin learned that we have to respect what happens at school, but we can still turn a bad day into something really great.

I love this quote by Gary Thomas in Sacred Parenting: “Our natural (but not necessarily holy) inclination to make life as easy as possible for our children, coupled with our focus on what we really want them to achieve, ultimately tells us parents what we value most about life. In what we stress with our children, we reveal the true passion of our own hearts.”

I listened to an interview recently with Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly and researcher on the concept of shame. She observed how not only parents of young adults at the COLLEGE level are coming to their kids’ defense, but she spoke with employers who have parents calling them because their child wasn’t hired for a job! Egads! Where does it end?

Do you struggle with protecting your kids too much? What would you have done in this situation?

I think the important thing to always keep in mind is what may be best for our child right now may not necessarily be in their best interest later as they grown into adults and try to function on their own. This parenting gig sure is a balancing act! Best wishes as you attempt to find your own balance.


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