Life comes with ups and downs. We know that while many life circumstances are out of our control, the way we choose to think and manage our internal world is something we can indeed influence greatly. If we want to raise children who are capable of living joyfully even when challenges hit, we need to model what that looks like for them.
The Gift of Acceptance
I outlined the following strategy that can help us with that – it is called, “Accept and decide or decide and accept?”
A gift that allows us to embrace life with all of its challenges is the gift of acceptance. Two people can have identical experiences, yet deal with them in completely different ways. One person can be falling apart while the other, who is also facing the same type of pain, succeeds in balancing the painful situation with leading a productive life. The person who is able to still produce amidst pain has accepted the challenge, using the “Accept and decide” strategy.
First, they fully accept what was sent their way as a unique and special challenge designed for them by Hashem with love, and then they decide what their next action should be.
So, let’s ask ourselves – do we first decide how life should be and THEN work on accepting, or do we fully accept what came our way, and THEN make decisions about how to move forward? We want to do the latter. When we first decide that life should be this way or that way, that people should treat me a certain way, it becomes much harder to accept disappointments. However, when we fully know that everything that Hashem does is for our best, it is easier to decide what to do next.
Acceptance in Action
For example, you get a call from your son’s principal saying that he was involved in a physical fight and needs to be picked up from school. When you pick him up, he is crying that he really didn’t punch the boy, but rather was trying to reach something on a bookshelf, and the boy screamed, “Get off!” when your son accidentally moved his hand past him.
You call up the school to speak to the principal and the secretary tells you that he left to go on vacation an hour ago. A different administrator takes the call and says that he will check the cameras. He calls you back and tells you that your son did not, in fact, punch the boy who was screaming dramatically just to make a scene, while your son was really just trying to reach a book.
You ask if your son can return to school and this administrator tells you he can’t override the principal’s decision. You can decide and accept or accept and decide. If you first decide that this is completely unfair, when you try to accept, it would be so hard. Instead, first accept that you and your son are supposed to experience this hardship, and that Gd has your back. For reasons you don’t understand you both needed this experience in order to become the great people you were intended to be. Then, it’s much easier to decide, to make a decision about what you should do next. So you get in the car and go out grocery shopping with your son, spending quality time in the car. No time wasted ruminating about the disappointment. Now, don’t get me wrong…the disappointment is real indeed. And all feelings need to be accepted. But when we also accept the situation, then what could have potentially had a dismal outcome of hours lost due to rumination, now becomes a minor discomfort marching alongside the joy of the other parts of our lives.
Sometimes people ask why they experience difficult situations in life. Consider the following. When young children need to take a medicine that doesn’t taste good, we can understand very well that we know better than our child, and we give the dose. We are confident that we as adults are privy to certain information about the child’s welfare that a toddler cannot understand. Because we love the child, we give the medicine, foul tasting as it may be. Hashem also loves us more than we love ourselves and while we can’t comprehend why He gives us certain challenges, we can adopt an “Accept and decide” attitude, and see where it takes us. And as always, proper modeling leads our children on the right path. To learn more go to tammysassoon.com.