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Protecting Our Children

Being Uncomfortable is Part of Living

By JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton

I want to categorize two kinds of discomfort. One is the uncomfortable feeling that you experience when you are in a bad situation. For instance, in his book, “The Unseen Enemy,” Robert Mack Gray Jr., a friend who was working as a volunteer in a prison, said, “Sometimes I ask my friends to please think back on the night of their crime. . . I ask them to show me by show of hands, if any of them remember a nervous swelling of their breast? A still small voice deep inside whispering to please turn around, please don't do it. Every time, every hand goes up. Then I ask, where do you think you would be now if you would have listened? They all smile at once and say we sure would not be here.”

We need to teach our children to be mindful of that feeling that serves as a personal warning regarding our behavior.

The other type of discomfort is part of just living. Growing up is uncomfortable in that children encounter situations which are new to them. Junior high students want to feel comfortable in their environment, though most are not. They need to realize that everyone else is feeling some discomforts, too. High school and college students still deal with uncomfortable situations in school, with roommates, etc. As adults, we encounter situations that make us feel uncomfortable.

We need to teach our children that this kind of discomfort is a normal part of living and that it is not an indicator that something is wrong with them. If they are not taught this, many children/teens think they are defective in some way. Children may be uncomfortable when they are teased. As parents, we can point out that all children are teased about something, and we can teach them positive ways to react.

So often, junior high and high school students compound their problems because they feel uncomfortable. If they feel friendless and a peer group that does drugs or drinks invites them to join them, it seems like a solution.

As a parent you will want to:

  1. Communicate with your children so you know how they feel. Be in their lives.
  2. Teach them ways to solve their problems, i.e., if it's a problem making friends, if it's appropriate, have them read, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” or read it at the breakfast table and discuss it.
  3. Teach them that there are two paths. One goes up and one goes down. There are positive ways to solve all problems. They may be difficult. They may be uncomfortable, but there are ways that ultimately help them feel good. That is the upper road.

Teach them that some people don't solve their problems. They choose the lower road. The lower road might include peers who encourage drinking or drugs. If a youth has a “friend” problem and chooses peers who encourage drinking, instead of one problem to work through, he now has two. Drinking often encourages a loss of chastity, and now he has three problems to solve. Anorexia, bulimia and cutting are low-road solutions that add problems to be solved.

It is important for children to learn that feeling uncomfortable is part of learning and that there are wholesome ways to solve their problems.

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