Handling Disappointments

“Little by little we human beings are confronted with situations that give us more and more clues that we are not perfect.”

~Fred Rogers

I’ve recently had a huge disappointment in my life. It was quite upsetting. Someone very close to me did not meet my expectations and, as a result, I was shocked and crestfallen.

None of us is exempt from life’s letdowns. Whether it is a relatively small issue like our child not studying and then failing a test or something much more serious like a teen regularly using drugs, disappointment is part-and-parcel of parenting.

So what are we to do when life and the people in it disappoint us? On the continuum of what the research says, I found on one end: “Wallow in your disappointment, do the necessary grieving, talk about it, air your feelings.” And on the other far end: “Venting is good but move on sooner rather than later, use the negative energy to seek out ways to shake it off, learn from this!”

Both of these ideas gave me good guidance about how to respond.  But there was one common reminder in all the advice that was key: I myself am not perfect and I surely, over the years, have disappointed others, including my children. This suggested that I could be more accepting of the “failures” of people in my life. Lesson learned.

Other lessons I’m learning:

  1. No one is perfect. Don’t expect them to be; it’s unrealistic and a set-up for disappointment.
  2. Do not ruminate on others’ imperfections. It’s not productive.
  3. Everyone makes mistakes. Period, case closed.
  4. Forgive. But….don’t forget. This doesn’t mean harboring perpetual resentment, but rather stepping back and looking for the lessons to be learned as well as any positives  to be gained from the situation.
  5. Talk, talk, talk to trusted friends and family or consider professional help. The research shows that it really helps.

Disappointment is complicated. It’s often about many other emotions, not just the disappointment itself: frustration, confusion, irritation, sadness, helplessness, surprise, to name just a few.

I’ve become a stronger person by learning ways to deal with my recent disappointment. This gives me hope that eventually, with time, patience, awareness, and work, I will feel better.

By Claire Gawinowicz, Certified Parenting Educator
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2 Responses to Handling Disappointments

  1. kasandra jackson says:

    I have made some mistakes in my life and I ask god and my kids to forgive me. I want to do much better with my life so that my family and I can be happy.

  2. The Center for Parenting Education says:

    You deserve credit for your willingness to acknowledge errors and make amends – that is not an easy thing to do. Remember to be kind to yourself as you make positive changes that will enable your family to grow in emotionally healthy ways.