You Won’t Be Able To Do This

Nobody likes it when their kids are sad. It breaks our hearts when they feel lonely, ashamed, or frustrated. We’d like to just make this all go away, to protect them from all this, so they can feel happy all the time.

But that’s not possible (nor is it, as we’ve talked about, actually a recipe for happiness).

In Good Inside, the great Dr. Becky writes, “I don’t know one adult who has ever said, ‘Wow, my parents really got all those uncomfortable feelings out of me! The disappointment and frustration and envy…they convinced them all out of me! They successfully distracted me so much that now, as an adult, I never feel these things! I am happy all the time!’”

You can’t—just as your parents couldn’t—tell them to stuff their feelings down. You can’t gaslight them into thinking the negative feelings aren’t there. You can’t make life so wonderful and fun that they’re never sad or angry or jealous or frustrated.

We can’t do it. We shouldn’t try to do it.

Instead, we have to try to raise and cultivate kids who know how to deal with those feelings. We can teach them how to deal with frustration. We can inform them that, sadly, frustration is an inevitable part of life—that things don’t always work out, that stuff breaks, that obstacles arise. We can empower them to understand their feelings, to be aware of them, to process them, to find healthy outlets for them.

We can’t protect them from life, but we can prepare them for it.

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