Too often we try to keep our little ones from being disappointed ...ever. What a mistake. It just seems that in today's world parents are sometimes attempting to keep their child from feeling sadness or disappointment in any form. Society as a whole is also buying into this mentality, hence the practice of every child receiving a trophy just for participating in a sport. It also is the reason for not keeping score in youth sports and why some schools are actually banning honor rolls for fear of offending the feelings of students who don't quite make the grade. While this all seems very nice, is this preparing our kids for adulthood ? Of course it isn't. Real life in the adult world is filled with setbacks, hardship, and often one disappointment after another. Basically, by providing a soft, cushy , disappointment free life for our kids, we are setting them up for failure . We are creating emotionally fragile future adults.

 The other day I was in a restaurant sitting next to a family comprised of mom, dad, a daughter about seven years old and a son who looked to be about three. They had already ordered their meals and all seemed fine. A few minutes later, the server approached their table and apologized to the family and told them that they were out of apple juice for the toddler and would they like to order perhaps orange juice or chocolate milk or another beverage? " He barely finished that question when the crying and screaming began. When dad told the little guy that he needed to choose another drink, the frenzied tantrum intensified...and continued...and continued..and continued...and - well you get the picture. We see this sort of thing all the time so I wasn't too overly shocked at the behavior of the three year old but what happened next truly stunned me. Instead of taking their son outside or to the car and dealing appropriately with their out of control child , mom and dad just sat there staring at each other in silence as the screams got louder. Then in a helpless tone, dad says to mom " What are we going to do?" and mom just sighs with no reply. The crying, the carrying on becomes louder. The mom then says " Well, why doesn't a restaurant have apple juice anyway? That's crazy - everyone knows that kids love apple juice." What happened next blew my mind. Mom says " We are just going to have to leave and go somewhere where they have apple juice." When the seven year old sister heard this she understandably starts whining. Then the unthinkable happened. They found a solution. They left in the hopes of finding somewhere that serves apple juice. Do you think that I am joking? Unfortunately I am not. I wish I was.

This is the culture in which we find ourselves I am afraid. Where the children are gods and are to be catered to, appeased, indulged, and above all else ...never to be disappointed. Perhaps that mom and dad felt that they were incredibly loving, devoted parents to have left so that they could satisfy their child's demands. How wrong they are. In fact, they are setting that son up for disaster. Some day the boss could care less if this boy has his apple juice, that is a certainty. When are we going to understand that allowing our kids to be disappointed builds character and strength into them? Hopefully sooner than later.

Although our kids are all grown now, I remember well the heart aches and disappointments that they felt when they were young. It wasn't easy or pleasant but it was necessary and is just a part of life. Of course it was difficult for me because when my children were hurting, I was hurting and admittedly, I did not always wisely handle their sad times well as a parent . I wish I could say that I was one hundred percent successful in how I dealt with their disappointments but that would not be truthful. Over time however, what I learned as have countless other parents is that some of the greatest and most lasting life lessons that they learned were through crushing disappointments.

 Young parents, don't deprive your kiddos from disappointment. It is a wonderful tool that God can use to shape and refine them...just as He does with us. Think of disappointment as a gift, not something horrible and your whole perspective will change for the better. Life is not always a sweet skip through the roses but often a tough hike through some thorns. Better that our youngsters learn that now rather than later because not having apple juice is a whole lot easier than not having peace, harmony and happiness twenty years from now.