Being an effective parent, guiding your child toward becoming a capable, happy, independent adult…this is now a part of your life. And life isn’t easy, not for anyone. For all of us – the challenges, disappointments, pain, and loss are inevitable. We need to work through these setbacks in order to keep moving forward, doing the hard things that will help us achieve our goals.

You may have heard of the five stages of grieving, described in On Death and Dying (1969), by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. (1926-2004). The five stages are:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Four things I like to keep in mind when considering Kübler-Ross’s theory…

  • We grieve all forms of adversity, not just death.
  • The important stage is the last one – acceptance – which is the goal of grieving.
  • The stages aren’t rigid. They don’t always happen in this order, and some people skip stages as they move towards acceptance.
  • I like to add a sixth stage after acceptance – affirmation. It’s important to affirm what is real and natural and good, and that can only happen after acceptance.

I consider acceptance to be an aspect of character strength because most of the time you have to be strong to accept the way things are. To acknowledge a hard truth, such as “My loved one is dead,” “My coworkers don’t like my work,” “My child is experimenting with drugs,” or “This habit is endangering my health,” you have to face up to unpleasantness, perhaps even the hard work of doing something about it. So it’s much easier to deny it.

But before you launch into accepting things, give some thought to what you’re about to accept…

  • You could accept a lie, instead of the truth.
  • You could accept the way you wish things were, instead of acknowledging the way things really are.
  • You could accept nonsense, instead of seeking something valid, good and useful.
  • You could accept a miserable situation, instead of doing something about it.
  • You could accept negative, erroneous attitudes, instead of healthy, life-affirming ones.
  • You could accept poor quality, instead of insisting on high standards.
  • You could accept living with a problem, instead of doing something to solve it.
  • You could accept your shortcomings, rather than work on getting stronger.

Truth, reality, quality, balance, solutions, your best self – pursuing these can enrich you, but to make them a part of your parenting and your life you have to be strong. You have to do the hard things.


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