Why I want my kids to be courageous—not ‘happy’

We were supposed to have a playdate recently with some of our best friends.


But they had to reschedule. I tried to break the news gently to my son.

But I knew how much he had been looking forward to it.

So, no matter how gently I put it, I was prepared for his inevitable reaction.

“But, why can’t they come today?” he asked with a frown.

I looked at my 3 year old’s big, sad eyes and knew exactly how he felt.

I told him, “It’s too bad our friends can’t come. That must feel really disappointing.”

I wanted to take away the sadness.

But, I knew I couldn’t change the situation.

And honestly, I was thankful he was experiencing the pain of disappointment.

As difficult as it is to see my children hurting, I know I don’t do them any favors trying to take away their pain or distract them from it. We learn as we grow that disappointments happen.

Our dream job goes to someone else.

Friends move away.

The recipe we try for the first time completely doesn’t turn out.

And those examples are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to disappointments we can experience as parents and as people.

Sometimes life can seem like a series of Pinterest-fail memes. But it goes on just the same.

We need to learn how to face disappointment head on.

We can allow ourselves to feel disappointment for what it is and not interpret it as failure.

Learning to be resilient in the face of disappointment is a challenge.

But it’s a skill that can be learned.

And it’s a skill that requires courage.

One of my favorite quotes says,

“Courage doesn’t always roar.

Sometimes courage is the small voice at the end of the day that whispers, “I’ll try again tomorrow.’”

This is the kind of courage I want my children to have.

I want them to know that their courage comes from within.

That it’s not something that can be taken away by difficult or disappointing situations.

When they possess courage they prevent themselves from becoming victims of their circumstances.

I want their courage to roar and help them achieve their potential when they feel determined.

And I hope their courage will whisper and give them the strength to try again when life hands them disappointments.

I hope no matter what daily emotions they face, their courage brings them to a place of contentment.

We all want happiness for our children. Some of our happiest times create our favorite memories.

But, like situations that bring disappointment, circumstances that make us “happy” come and go.

Happiness is fleeting.

But it doesn’t mean that our feelings of contentment with ourselves and our lives will be shaken.

So, whether our children have times that lift them up or those that bring them to tears, they still can experience contentment.

Brene Brown sums up my hopes for our children’s emotional well being nicely in The Gifts of Imperfection

“No matter what gets done and how much is left undone I AM ENOUGH. Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid. But, that doesn’t change the truth that I am also BRAVE and WORTHY of love and belonging.”

This is the contentment we all can strive for.

Disappointments happen.

Sometimes they complicate our situations for long periods of time.

But our courage can take us through those times whether it roars or whispers.

And being content with ourselves and our lives will remain.

These concepts of disappointment, courage and contentment are definitely abstract.

And of course I don’t recommend a philosophical conversation with the cute, little humans in our lives in an effort to teach the importance of these emotions.

But, they can be introduced by bringing the words into their vocabulary. Labeling emotions when children go through them is one of the first steps toward coaching them into emotionally intelligent adults.

We have some favorite books we love to read that discuss some of these concepts in kid-friendly, tangible ways.

So, if you’re with me that in this parenting journey we can allow our children to feel and experience disappointment and you want to teach them to navigate with courage and contentment, definitely check these out!

On Monday When It Rained

The Way I Feel

Courage

Chicken Soup for the Kids’ Soul

Still Like a Frog

Master of Mindfulness: How to be Your Own Superhero in Times of Stress

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