Ten year old Janie discovered a lump on her guinea pig, Panda. She showed her mother, Ann, and they took the guinea pig to the vet, who told them that it might or might not be cancer and that surgery would cost $600.
Back at home, Ann said, “We will do our best to make sure that Panda isn’t suffering. But in our family-values $600 should be spent in other ways.”
Janie cried and offered to earn the money herself. “No,” said Ann again, “I know you love her and you would try, but that is too much money for you to earn in a few months. We will take good care of Panda, and if she starts losing weight or looking ill then we will know it is time to put her to sleep.”
Janie cried again, and then curled up on her bed with a book. A little while later, she went to find her Ann. “I’m going to give Panda extra lettuce and weigh her every day,” she said.
What is Acceptance?
Acceptance means embracing what is, rather than wishing for what is not. When we accept difficult, even painful realities, we are able to discover whatever positive feelings and experiences may be possible in that situation. We find ourselves more at peace and able to experience life more deeply. Even so, acceptance must be guided by discernment – learning how to tell the difference between what we can change and what we cannot.
As parents we often want ourselves (and our children) to be more than we can be. Acceptance of our limits and theirs helps us to be patient and to avoid hurtful kinds of criticism or judgment. By accepting faults we become more able to trust and celebrate strengths. Paradoxically, acceptance often leads to growth because it creates a safe space for insight and understanding.
Five Quotes to Contemplate, Post and Discuss.
The store was closed so I went home and hugged what I own.
Though you may not be able to change it, you can handle an ugly situation beautifully.
–Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.
Bringing it home to your kids
- How do you come to terms with disappointments and limitations? Show your child how to put words on the acceptance process by musing out loud: I wish this was different, but . . . .
- When you need to say no, be clear in your own mind whether there is room for negotiation. Your children can’t begin the process of acceptance till they have figured out whether they have the power to change your mind.
- Help your kids to reframe their disappointments – to look at the possibilities that remain open to them; to figure out what they have the power to create moving forward. Often our children don’t need us to fix difficult situations; they need us to coach them through their own process of acceptance and problem solving.
- 4. Since one of life’s biggest challenges is accepting death, establish rituals around the death of pets. Think of this as an opportunity to prepare your child for other losses. Even in middle school my daughters asked to read, Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children, (a picture book that honors the cycle of life) as part of the tribute to their companion animals.
- 5. Cultivate a “go with the flow” family mindset. Think kayaking: You don’t have to be in control of the current; in fact, you can’t be. In life, your children will need to paddle hard sometimes to keep from swamping. Mostly, though, they will get richness and joy from being open and curious, wherever the current of their own capabilities and opportunities takes them.