Should we lessen disappointment and rejection for our children?

I read this blog recently about why your kids being left out of things is good thing. It focused on that kids were not learning to handle disappointment and rejection because we, as parents, have become too worried about hurting their feelings. Invitations have to go to everyone so no one is left out. We give second place trophies or all participants get a medal. I don’t recall any of that while growing up, but I do recall the horrible feeling of being left out and of course as a parent I want to minimize that as much as possible for my kids.

Both Jase and Lexie’s schools have policies that if you are sending birthday party invitations through the school, you have to invite everyone or at least all of one gender. I know this is done so you don’t exclude someone and hurt their feelings. So far, we have been inviting the whole class but that means larger birthday parties. Since we usually do them at a party place, more invitees of course means more money. For Jase, we have told him that next year when he turns 9, he can only invite a select few friends. By this age, I expect the other kids to be a little better equipped to handle not being invited than at the kindergarten age.

left outI know kids have to learn about disappointment, but it is hard to know you are being left out of the fun. My daughter Lexie idolizes one of Jase’s friends who lives in our neighborhood. Emily likes playing with Lexie but there is a two year difference in age. One day, Emily had an all-girls play date, and she didn’t invite Lexie. We walk with them daily and the play date never came up. Lexie found out about it when Emily and two other friends were talking about it on the day of the get together. Lexie was crushed not to be invited. She cried all the way home. And no amount of explaining that her friend might want to play with girls her own age would make it better. I know this won’t be the last instance of heartache, but it was hard to watch. If I had known what was coming, I would have avoided the situation by not walking home with the neighbors that day as Lexie was after all only four at the time. There is no way she would understand not being included.

2nd placeAs for the sport organizations giving out trophies for all participants, Jase’s karate group does that. They have a tournament each session and everyone either gets a first or second place trophy. Jase has come in second place every time. Not once has he been excited about getting a second-place award. He knows it isn’t first and is disappointed. This actually has inspired him to train extra hard for the next tournament which was this month. He came in second place again though he did do much better this time and only lost by one point.

In the case of sports and trophies, I am fine with them not giving out awards to everyone. I know that my kids need to learn that they will not be the best at everything. But as for being left out, I am torn. Yes, I know it will happen but gosh is it hard to watch, or as I remember it, it is hard to endure. I don’t know that it makes anyone better to feel unwanted for whatever reason.

Favoring one parent over the other

“I want to sit by daddy,” my daughter declares.

“No, I want to,” my son says.

This is a conversation I hear all the time. It doesn’t matter if we are sitting on the couch, eating out at a restaurant or going on a ride at the amusement park. While with the first two, there are two sides to daddy so that both kids can get their wish but on the last, they have to take turns. Someone must sit with mommy.

favorite parentI know that the kids’ excitement about their dad is just because they don’t see him as often as they do me. I am the one to get them ready, takes and picks them up from school, makes their meals, helps with homework and all that stuff. I am also the one that takes them to the zoo, the library, the pool, and any other fun activity to fill up their days off during school breaks.

Many times I am happy when my husband comes home and they swarm over him. I know they have been missing him, and I am glad to have a break. But after so many times of them arguing on who sits next to him at the restaurant, I am sometimes tired of it. They once all sat on one side of the table in a booth. I had the other side all to myself. Talk about feeling unwanted, I sure did.

I know the kids aren’t trying to hurt my feelings when they continually want daddy, but it does sometimes. I also know that this is perfectly normal. One day when I was upset by their actions, I went online and read other parents’ accounts of having the same thing happen to them. And it helped that a few experts suggested the kids would only do this if they felt comfortable that I would always be there for them no matter what.

But even with knowing that, it does drive me crazy sometimes. Last May, we had a trip to Disney World planned, and I told my husband we would have to make sure they understood they would need to take turns riding with each of us.

Of course, my husband unexpectedly started his new business about six weeks before our trip and decided that he couldn’t go. My mom stepped in and took his place. But on the trip, all of sudden it was like I was “daddy.” Both kids wanted to sit beside me at the restaurant, on the bus and on the rides. It was nice to for once to be the preferred parent – even if it was only be default.