How Do You Navigate Your Child’s Disappointment?

The other day, I did something that really disappointed one of my kids. I’ve tried a few times to re-write that as to not blame myself for circumstances that I don’t have complete control over. But in reality, doing several things at once is very me, so that I don’t end up on this particular road.

As an adult, I have to constantly deal with being dissapointed, and yet, when dealing with my kids, this is my weak spot. In truth, it isn’t like my kids expect a whole lot. Except, when it comes to activities—and doing them all. Which is a monster of my own making, to be honest. It’s something I’ve done since they were little. We’ve always stayed out and about, and took up every invitation and filled our days and evenings with activites. Admitedly, this is what I most love about motherhood. Besides loving them so much, it is the fun I have had with them (even when it’s been a struggle). But as you know, this sort of pace (and all the things) isn’t always manageble.

I’ve circumvented dissapointment by simply not sharing anything that I am ever feeling gray on. And if I do decide to do that previously gray event, it is more of a surprise and there’s a welcomed feeling of excitement, rather than the painful bits of childhood disappointment when an expectation isn’t met.

And while I know that being disappointed is just a part of life, for me, this is particularly difficult. It has everything to do with the childhood version of myself, meeting this adult version of myself. In one moment, like this past weekend, I am asked to manage both worlds. All the therapy in the world is great, until you find it staring at you in the face. The staring, a disappointment that isn’t limited to a facial expression. It was crying and more pouting than I could personally swallow. There was explaining and hugging, but that did little.

Many of my parent-friends deal with this with a confident ease. Something I hope to take along with me this year, so the days like those are much less heavy on me.

I know I don’t know it all, so reaching out to you, how do you deal with disapointment and your children? Or, how did your parents deal with when you were a kid?

6 thoughts on “How Do You Navigate Your Child’s Disappointment?

  • Reply Sonja January 28, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    Beautifully written and I couldn’t agree more. I feel so badly when I disappoint my child; when I can’t be the one to stay home when he’s sick, or we can’t do soccer lessons, etc. I know he’s happy, healthy, provided for, and we shouldn’t give them everything they want but wow how I want to. My son is gracious most of the time but sometimes that’s a big ask for a small kid.

    • Reply latonya January 28, 2020 at 9:32 pm

      Hi Sonja, yes exactly!

      I find it’s also hard with the things that I can’t clearly explain. Like my children are at the point where they sort of understand if something is too expensive, or if I’m in a meeting or working. But of course, there’s a lot of gray, that makes sense to an adult, but not to a kid. And explaining why this doesn’t work, or you cant do this or that, or fit in one more event on a very busy weekend when they still don’t have a true sense of time, is the gray oddness. Also, they are so very little still. But also, there’s got to a be a way, right?


  • Reply Monica January 28, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    I think it is really good to simply be honest with your children. Tell them when you can’t do something you promised, be straightforward. Be honest when you are disappointed and why. I do think children are very apt to handle disappointment and change, they are incredibly resilient and it is my job as a parent to prepare my son for life and give him the tools to navigate changes, disappointments and strife with good humor and understanding for himself and others. I think you are doing your best and how you deal is exactly how your children will learn, your love is always going to come through and it is completely okay to cry, pout and whine when you are little or big. It is good to feel what you feel and then move on. Children seem to do this very well! : )

    • Reply latonya January 30, 2020 at 10:14 am

      Monica, I love your words and tips. Thank you!!

  • Reply Sylvia Patton January 29, 2020 at 2:22 am

    I appreciate you sharing this. I can say disappointment doesn’t make me feel bad becaue to is a fact of life that none of us can avoid (not even if we tried). If not intentional, it will occur accidentally and sometimes the effect is perception. As a Mother I believe if I only paint one picture of “Me,” to her I am doing a disservice and not only by presenting a false image of me but even herself. Our children also dispppoint (disobedience, their peers, themselves) and will continue. The teaching comes in not to allow the intent/effectof “disappointing” be must or her character. I also teach my daughter God’s Word and through that I share with her the realities of “The Seasons of Life.” We are butterflies all over the place! Rain! Sleet! or Snow! However we were currently in a season of “Still,” due to wisdom not tradition. I explain this to her and show her through example how to exist and function when the temperature changes (as we Mom’s KNOW it is and will). I don’t feel bad because I can’t take her to the park everyday “right now!” and no, I don’t compensate or “make-up” for it. This is an authentic teaching we were giving them and also showing guilt can confuse the decisions they will make one day where the decision you have to make or choose will piss some people off. But hey! Did we get here today not being able to discern that? Nope! It is going to happen. I’m a disabled Veteran with PTSD so I can’t live in guilt because PTSD and physical disabilities call the shots some days. However I have already explained and educated my daughter on my realities and the grace and love (in those few moments when they choose) revives and restrengthen me. Thank you for this post! This is good and powerful!

    • Reply latonya January 30, 2020 at 10:13 am

      Thank you so very much for sharing, Sylvia! You are correct in all. your wisdom. It does help them (and us) in the future. Especially when there are other things calling the shots, health and mental health.

      I’ve been mindful about discussing all those things with the kids, because they definitely dictate what happens in the day to day, but will go about it all with a bit more of ease. Thank you so much for sharing.

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