Parenting Failure? It May Not Be All It Seems!

I'll never forget my first lesson in a glider.

I'd been interested in gliding, or soaring as it's known in the USA, for some time - and now the big day had arrived.

As I approached the airfield the words of some 'friends' came back to haunt me. 'Going up in a sailplane without an engine? You must be mad! How these things stay up there in empty space is beyond me!'

After a lesson or two on the principles of flight, it was time to take to the air. And I needn't have worried about 'empty space' . . .

If ever there was a case of things not being as they seemed, this was it.

Empty space? You must be joking!

Five minutes in a glider (or sailplane) teaches you that it's anything but 'empty space' up there.

I was amazed at the buffeting and whipping of the air currents and the sheer power of the thermals as they pushed the plane upward, like a giant hand from below.

The question soon changed from 'How are we going to stay up?' to 'How on earth are we going to get down?'

But it's all about manipulation of the control surfaces on the plane, and soon we glided to a smooth and safe landing.

Often in life, perhaps even more so in parenting, things are not as they seem.

Here's a common scenario. A parent has been reading up on positive thinking, self-development, parenting skills or such like.

They feel good and are dutifully putting everything into practice.

Then out of the blue - WHUMP! There's a major confrontation with one of our teens that leaves us drained, bedraggled and crawling off in search of a corner where we can lick our emotional wounds.

The steely glint of failure mocks our efforts.

But wait! All is not as it seems . . .

In recent years we've come to realise that every situation has potential for good AND bad. Some call it the Law Of Opposites.

Let's illustrate it with another example. Say you make a sacrifice and give money to the poor.

That's good. It helps them get on their feet, and generosity is good for your personal development.

So what could possibly be 'bad' in that situation?

It's POSSIBLE that giving so 'generously' could make you feel smug and 'superior'. It could lead to a 'Holier than thou!' attitude. And the receiver could eventually become dependent on hand-outs from others.

Not good!

So let's get back to that volcanic blow-up with our teens!

No possibility for good there? Think again.

Lick the wounds by all means, but rest assured that every situation has a lesson for us.

All we have to do is open ourselves to the possibility.

So when we retreat, let's ask ourselves some questions and be brutally honest in our appraisal:

* In that situation did I keep my cool?
* Was I positive in my attitude?
* What kind of language did I use?
* Did I come over as patronizing, sarcastic, impatient, intolerant, 'superior', huffy?
* Or was I supportive, patient, tolerant, mature, assertive, helpful, confident?
* Was my approach reasonable or in some way self-serving?

In short, was I modelling the type of behaviour I would want them to adopt?

If the answer is yes, then you can feel strong and confident, knowing that any sanctions you apply are just and reasonable.

If the answer is no, what can you learn from this?

Use this opportunity to strengthen and develop yourself, and prepare to handle it better next time.

In your path toward parenting progress, then, all may not be as it seems.

Apparent failures - especially when we thought we were making it! - can be opportunities to take our progress to the next level.

Remember the people who couldn't understand how a glider stayed in the air without an engine? Just because they couldn't SEE the ridges of air pressure or the thermals which push the plane upward, doesn't mean they weren't there.

In the same way, situations that may APPEAR to bring us down can in fact be the very 'thermals' (which are hot air!) to push us upward to the next level - if we let them.

Happy parenting!

Why do some parents and children succeed, while others fail? Frank McGinty is an internationally published author and teacher. If you want to further develop your parenting confidence and encourage your kids to be all they can be, visit his web pages: AND

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