In my line of work coaching parents, teens and young adults, not a week goes by that a client doesn’t arrive at an appointment with a crisis. The variety is astounding. But what they all have in common is that they leave us with that, “Omigosh…how did this happen? How could you (or they or we) have done this! I can’t believe…!” The crisis often leaves parents and kids feeling ashamed or guilty. Often feeling stupid or out of control. It frequently causes us to sleep poorly, to worry, to awaken with a sense of doom and failure.
Did the kid get suspended for writing something dirty about a teacher on a desk? Did we discover our daughter sent a naked image of herself on a text message?
Did the county jail call to see if we’d like to post bond for our kid?
Did we awaken to hear our drunken teen pass out on the floor of the kitchen at 3 a.m.?
How will we move forward from here, we agonize.
At the risk of sounding hopelessly Pollyanna, I’d like to offer that instead of seeing these situations as red flags or even black-flags-of-gloom-and-doom, that we reconsider.
we saw them as golden flags? Golden flags of opportunity.
What if, when we have that sinking sensation, that how-will-we-tell-grandmother reaction … we said to ourselves, “Hot DOG! This is really going to bust open an important conversation. This could be life-changing!”
Writing on the school desk becomes a chance to talk about having others think you’re a “bad kid.” It’s a chance, during after-school suspension, to work for teachers in their rooms and get to know them and like them. It can mean being chosen as a “good worker” by a new teacher/friend, asked to help.
That shocking sext-message becomes a chance to embrace our aching daughter, to assure her that indeed, beauty is more than skin deep. It is a chance for her to really get to see how much her father loves her and how he longs to protect her. And it is even a chance, painfully “expensive,” to learn about betrayal as the image passes from one phone to the next, and beyond. Perhaps even an opportunity to learn that her little brother loves her, stands by her, even when other guys in his gym class show him the picture on their phones.
I’ll admit, it takes some soul training to master that knee-jerk OMG reaction to some of the messes our kids end up in. But I encourage you to be on the look out, put your antennae up for that dreadful sensation. And recognize that with it is traveling a chance to
Never let a good crisis go to waste.