When to Let Go and Enjoy the Ride
POSITIVE PARENTING | BY DEBBIE GLASSER
week, we took our three kids on a family trip. Shortly after we
arrived at the airport, we learned our flight would be delayed due
to stormy weather in another part of the country.
hours later, we had weathered a storm of our own.
that crowded airport terminal, Sam, our active preschooler, looked
for places to run, and Ben, our game-loving fourth-grader who had
inadvertently packed his Game Boy in the checked luggage, complained
there was nothing to do.
Emily, our teenage daughter announced she was ''less than thrilled''
(my words) about spending an afternoon ''totally trapped'' (her
words) in an airport with us.
a funny thing happened on the way to our vacation. We made the most
of the journey. Somewhere between Sam spinning around in circles
to make himself dizzy, Ben frantically searching for video games
on our cellphones, and Emily rolling her eyes and blaming me for
everything from cold pizza to the flight delay, we stopped snapping
and started laughing.
can't pinpoint exactly when -- or how -- it happened, but we managed
to shift from being stressed-out to OK. My husband and I let the
kids know we understood how they were feeling. We said we were all
tired and cranky, but we needed to do our best -- at least most
of the time.
promised this day wouldn't last forever, even though there were
times when it felt like it would. And we explained that bickering
and complaining wouldn't get us any closer to our destination.
set limits on the behaviors that weren't OK (like Sam's repeated
efforts to run behind the ticket counter); and overlooked the ones
that fell under the frustrating-but-age-appropriate category (like
Emily's eye rolling). We agreed to focus our efforts on making the
best of the situation.
when things started to get better.
letting go of the things we couldn't control -- like the weather
and the fact that 4-year-olds simply aren't designed to sit still
for long periods of time -- we found it easier to let the little
things slide. We even found some humor in the situation. Our journey
improved. And the only thing that changed was our attitude.
lessons weren't lost on me.
parents, we all have our share of challenging days, even if we never
spend hours in an airport with three kids and no plane in sight.
Our afternoon served as a reminder that the parenting journey isn't
all about trying to control our kids or their behavior but understanding
and guiding them, setting positive examples, and ignoring the little
things once in a while to keep the family on track.
about learning when to step in, when to let go, and when to just
laugh and wait it out.
we got where we were going. The long afternoon in the airport is
over, but I'm hopeful the lessons we learned will stay with us throughout
your parenting journey, and have a happy, healthy, and harmonious
Glasser, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and founder
an online newsletter for parents. She can be reached at debbie@NewsForParents.org.