Red Eye Tree Frog, Costa Rica

Managing Setbacks with a Comeback

It was an awful day.  Water and electricity were out. The alarm didn’t buzz and you were running late. Food spoiled, leaving little to serve for breakfast and send for lunch. A tree had fallen across an electrical wire. It also blocked the road, so you and your kids arrived late for school. In the rush, you put one kid’s shirt on inside out. And your kids felt embarrassed as classmates stared and giggled at the late arrival. By after school pick up, they were irritated and defiant. “Mom, you made us look bad. Kids teased us all day.”

Although little of this was your fault, you felt like a “failure” – letting down your kids and yourself. And you worried that teachers and other moms began to doubt your parenting skills. As bad as things were, tomorrow is always a new beginning. A chance to restore your self-confidence and show your kids how to recover from mistakes and setbacks.

First, realize that practically every parent has had a similar bad day. They may not admit it, but many understand exactly how you feel. AND don’t forget how much you did WELL that day: you stayed calm, you came up with something for them to eat, you found a way around that tree, and you replaced the family’s food supply.

Yet you felt shame? WHY? What exactly was so shameful about the family being setback by events outside their control? Because you weren’t PERFECTLY prepared for the common problems that happen here in Costa Rica? Didn’t you recover and get your kids to school, even if a little late? Show your kids that whatever others may think “This family MEASURES UP” to the demands of life in the rainforest. Apologize for their embarrassment. Remind them other families have bad mornings too, but most importantly don’t forget to chime in how resourceful you all were in recovering from the day’s events.

“Brick walls are not there to keep us out, they are there to show us how much we want something.” – Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

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