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  • Writer's pictureMary Hickey

Navigating Disappointment: A Lesson in Parenting and Trust

Parenthood is a journey filled with joy, love, and at times, unexpected challenges. Recently, I found myself facing one of these challenges as a parent when my son, on the heels of a grueling recovery from an ACL tear, didn't make the cut for the high school varsity soccer team. As a junior, this setback hit him hard, and as a parent, it was equally crushing to witness.


His journey back to the field was marked by dedication—countless hours of physical therapy, collaboration with a trainer, and commitment to club soccer. The disappointment was palpable, and my instinct was to shield him from this pain. However, I've come to realize that intervening to fix his feelings or alter his situation is more about easing my discomfort than genuinely helping him.


"It can be challenging to witness your child’s pain; the desire to protect and guide is overpowering."

The initial days were tough—anger, tears, and contemplation of quitting. I desperately wanted to tell him not to give up, emphasizing the uncertainties of a season and the potential for a turnaround. His dreams of playing in college hung in the balance, and the emotional, time, and financial investments loomed large. But, recognizing the temptation to let my discomfort drive my actions, I kept the unsolicited advice to myself.


It can be challenging to witness your child’s pain; the desire to protect and guide is overpowering. Yet, I managed to remain mindful, offering a listening ear, validating his hard work, and expressing our unwavering support for whatever decision he made. It wasn't easy, especially when faced with the fear of watching his dreams slip away.


Seeking guidance from a friend and mentor proved crucial. She reminded me of my son's track record of good judgment and sensibility. Trusting him to make decisions for himself became paramount, even when my own fears clouded the reality of the situation. We took it one day at a time.


"...as parents, our role is not to dictate or shield but to support, listen, and trust in our children's ability to make decisions—even in the face of disappointment."

After over a week of uncertainty, the verdict arrived—he would be on JV for his junior year. The disappointment lingered briefly, but something remarkable happened. Without any input from my husband or me, he shifted his perspective. "Well, if I'm going to be on JV, I'm going to score a lot of goals this year," he declared. This shift was organic, a testament to his ability to navigate challenges independently. Doors that had seemed closed suddenly opened. The disappointment transformed into an opportunity for exploration. He began considering other colleges and options that were once overlooked, realizing that soccer wasn't the sole determining factor in his future.


The experience taught me the importance of restraint and trust in the parenting journey. It reinforced that, as parents, our role is not to dictate or shield but to support, listen, and trust in our children's ability to make decisions—even in the face of disappointment. It's a delicate balance between providing guidance and allowing them the space to grow through their experiences. In the end, it's not just about the game on the field but the invaluable life lessons learned along the way.

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