Thursday, May 1, 2008

Being Hopefully Detached

"Learning to Trust Struggle and Disequilibrium" is one of the nine principles outlined in "Becoming the Parent You Want to Be" by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser, one of my favorite books on parenting. The principle also holds true in other life transitions. Often, when we think hopefully about the future, that hope is tied to a particular outcome. So what happens when that particular outcome doesn't come to be? Do we feel disappointed? Yes, naturally. Then, I wonder: what does this disappointment obscure? Was there a different outcome that could also be celebrated, enjoyed, or learned from in some way? Was there something about the trying that could be celebrated, enjoyed or learned from?

This idea of enjoying the struggle and the trying has particular resonnace for me as my 2 year-old daughter has begun to express interest in using the potty. By "using" I mean sitting on it for as long as 10 or 15 minutes, without anything actually going into the potty. I am hopeful that she will learn to use the potty, but for now, I must remind myself that her challenge is to become comfortable sitting there. If my hope for her is tied to "results", I'm bound to be disappointed, and she will likely become discouraged and quit trying. As long as I can remain hopeful yet detached from a particular outcome, we can celebrate and (hopefully!) learn from the trying.

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