I was reminded yesterday morning of just how much we as a culture abhor disappointment. We’ve developed a hyper-sensitivity toward this brutal enemy that brazenly denies us our hopes, dreams, and fantasies. And when do our collective defenses rise quickest? When disappointment threatens our children. Take for instance the recent story of a young boy at a Texas Rangers game. In case you haven’t heard about it, here’s the short version:
Three-year old attends Rangers game with parents, ball flies into the stands, three-year old wants the ball, adult couple near him actually catch it, three-year old breaks into a sob, adult couple is villainized for not allowing the three-year old to make the catch.
From what I read, the parents of the three-year boy took it all in stride. The father actually defended the couple when interviewed by the press. However, the TV production staff was not so reasonable. Between the commentator, producer, and camera operators the televised case was made that these ball snatching grown-ups were despicable people…because they dared disappoint a child. Furthermore, it appears there was an expectation for the couple to surrender their trophy!
I don’t want to overreact, but to me this is a serious problem. We’ve begun a systematized attack on one of the greatest educators in the natural world. How many lessons can be learned simply by the harsh reality of an unrealized desire? Isn’t that what drives us to work harder? When disappointment exists without dilution it becomes the catalyst for greatness!
Take it away, especially in children, and they never learn to push through, dig in, take the bull by the horns and triumph.
I believe a parents removal of childhood disappointment often has nothing to do with the child and everything to do with the parent. We struggle emotionally with our kids letdown – the pouty lips, quivering chin, huge tears. It tugs at our heart strings and we respond by eliminating the sad situation. This not only removes the child’s sadness (and by extension ours), but it also makes us the hero – “Mom & Dad, the great deliverer of dreams”. It’s easy to see why the cultural pattern has developed.
We can all probably agree that culture is unlikely to change. Which makes it all the more difficult for parents to be the champions of reality. We’ll need tougher skin, concrete values, and plenty of love and encouragement to dole out when disappointment invades our families. No doubt it’s tough, but the long term pay off is huge, and someday, I believe the next generation will look back and be grateful.