THERE is no doubt that in our day-to-day lives, we will run into plenty of obstacles and distractions that will threaten to pull us off tangent. Let’s take our daily commutes as an example. We brave the traffic and battle our way through just to get to our destination safely. There will be all sorts of obstacles along the way — traffic congestion, malfunctioning traffic lights, insufficient parking spots or just plain inconsiderate road users. Many are put off by these obstacles, they dread driving to their destination.
But, fortunately, most people do not simply give up the journey instead, they look for other ways to get there. Some may hire a driver while others may choose public transportation. The majority have learnt to accept these obstacles.
The journey of life is not much different.
POWER OF EXPECTATION
In our parenthood adventures, there will be plenty of obstacles along the way. They may come in many forms — family conflicts, disagreements or arguments with the people we love. With mischievous kids, rebellious teenagers and unsupportive spouses, a parent may feel he (or she) has failed miserably and that he’s reached the end of the road.
But, like our short drive on the road, these are just obstacles that come our way no matter how much we want to avoid them. And just like the drivers who continue to drive to work or ferry their kids to and from school, we must learn to accept, and even expect, that these obstacles are here to stay.
Expecting the worst while praying for the best is a very liberating strategy. It does not mean that we want the bad things to happen but when they do, we are prepared physically and emotionally. Our spouse may have had a bad day and may lash out at us. It may not be fair, but if we are ready, we will not take the lashing too personally. On the contrary, we can be the listening ear and pillar of strength in this time of need.
Similarly, our growing kids and teenagers will have their moments of need too. When they misbehave or get in trouble, these are clear signs that something is not quite right. Expecting all these to happen will free our minds to look at it positively. It offers an opportunity for us to find out what is bothering them, instead of feeling helpless and frustrated with the situation.
But, if we fail to expect these temporary setbacks, we will allow them to trigger our “fight or flight” buttons. When the spouse is venting his or her frustration, we may become defensive and start the blame game. We will be looking to win the argument instead of finding a solution. But, there is no winner, instead, there will be two parties who will drift apart as time goes by and will look for another fight to prove their point.
Same goes for the conflicts with our children. We can win the argument and feel good for a while that we have forcibly pushed the obstacles aside. But, without considering their feelings we, unfortunately, will never solve any problem.
On the contrary, it may create problems of other kinds. Hearts may be broken and relationships ruined.
LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE
Therefore, a better strategy is to assume that all those obstacles are just part and parcel of our journey. We can try to avoid them, but be prepared to face a few head-on collisions as we move from one phase to another. Even the best couples will fight and disagree over things every now and then. Expecting fights to never happen would be unrealistic. Negative emotions will find their way in no matter how much we try to avoid them.
The best cure for this is not in avoiding them, but in realising that they won’t matter in the long-term once we have crossed the finishing line. It is like the way we brush aside and forget all the drama on the road once we have safely reached our office or home.
The bigger picture is in the destination. It is all worth it. The real battle should not be with our spouse or kids, instead, it should be with the negative elements and obstacles in our way.
Picture ourselves surrounded by successful sons and daughters, or holding our elderly spouse’s hand, and all the years of sacrifice and hard work will immediately vanish.