Life is full of opportunities and challenges, ups and downs, surprises and disappointments, and everything in between. Tiny things, like a B- on a test for a child who is used to academic achievement, can feel huge and bring up feelings of overwhelm and disappointment. Other times, huge things like a diagnosis of chronic illness can stimulate feelings of empowerment and resilience.
As parents, what affects our children can also affect us. When our child suffers from mental illness, trauma, bullying, chronic disease, a relationship break-up, addiction, or any number of other conditions, we suffer, too. Our mirror neurons start working overtime. We worry, we try to fix, we find our thoughts circling day and night, we grow fatigued and overwhelmed and suddenly we're right down in the emotional mud with our child.
Yet, we are still the parents.
When we can pause, catch our breath, and resist the overwhelming temptation to either jump into the mud with our child or run screaming from the room, we can take on a more critical and vital role - modeling a growth mindset. A growth mindset allows us to see potential rather than limits, believe in resilience rather than brittleness, and lean into growth rather than get stuck in stagnation. A growth mindset makes our problems and the problems our children experience seem more surmountable. It takes the edge off.
It is not that we and our children have been handed a plate of messiness that will matter in the end. It is how we pause, catch our breath, and then sit tight with that messiness, modeling a growth mindset, that will be our lasting legacy to our children.