Dealing with Disappointment


School registration was yesterday, and I think that there's truly no day more ridden with tween and teen angst than middle school registration day. What team will I be on? Will I have any friends in my classes? Will I get a top locker or a bottom locker? What electives did I get?

As we walked through registration yesterday with my older daughter, I watched girl after girl express frustration or sadness with the answer to at least one of those questions -- my own daughter included. I talked to other parents who had girls in tears because their friends were all on another team or because they didn't get the schedule they wanted. My own daughter was upset that her best friend was on a different team and that she didn't get any of the electives she wanted. She asked for art and creative writing. She got French.

Middle school is tough. There's no getting around it. Those years between fifth and ninth grade are awkward ones no matter where you go to school. Your body is changing. Your interests are changing. Even your friends are changing. Small things like getting French instead of creative writing take on huge importance. The disappointments become magnified by hormones and the inability to see beyond today.

When my daughter was dealing with her disappointment yesterday, she expressed the thought that this was going to be a terrible year. That's when I called a halt to the pity party. I reminded her that the type of year she has is more dependent on her own attitude than it is on her schedule, her team or her locker position. Our own attitudes often determine our success. That's why it's so important to help our kids see that there's a bigger picture than their own frustration or disappointment. It's important that we remind them that God has a plan.

Who knows? There may be someone in those particular classes that needs my daughter's friendship or her encouragement. There may be someone who doesn't know Jesus that will be influenced by my daughter's relationship with Christ. Or it may be that there's someone in those classes that my daughter needs to meet.

In the grand scheme of her life, 7th grade is a small blip on the radar, but things could happen this year that will change the trajectory of my daughter's life. It's my job to help her enter the year with an attitude of expectation, with a mind set on finding all that God has for her this year.

When our kids get bogged down in their own disappointment, it's our job to help them see the bigger picture. It's our job to acknowledge their frustration and then to teach them how to deal with it in a constructive manner. It's our job to remind them that they don't just need to survive their disappointment, they need to learn to thrive despite it.