There is a pattern to school life. The stress levels ebb and flow. For the senior students, the last two weeks have seen a peak in stress levels. The annual QCS Tests, which contribute to the determination of the students’ OP scores, were held along with the regular Block Exam period. I am sure that many families with Year 11 or 12 students were feeling the impact of this stressful period. The teachers will now be furiously marking late into the evening, preparing to give the students valuable feedback. Their period of stress is just starting to peak.
Stress is relative. We all experience times of stress. Some people thrive under stress, while others wither. Why is that? Why are some people more resilient than others? I am not a psychologist, but I do have experience observing people and listening to their stories. People’s ability to cope with stress is dependent on a huge number of things including: their physiological makeup, their life experiences, and the impact of trauma, but predominantly, their courage and willingness to face adversity and the challenges of life.
Scott Peck wrote a profound book called, “The Road Less Travelled”. I cannot find my copy. I think I lent it to someone. The first line in that books says, “Life is difficult… we must be willing to fail and accept the truth that life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived.” It is in facing our stress, our failures and challenges that we grow and become better people.
As parents, we can become over-protective. In the name of love, we try to guard our children from failure, disappointment or difficulty. We seek to reduce our children’s stress. We step in and solve their issues and problems believing that a childhood should be a time of great joy and happiness, devoid of any suffering.
It is a myth that a good parent is someone who gives their children everything they didn’t have when they were growing up. It is a myth that we all deserve a “good life, free of trouble or difficulty”. These myths rob our children of the valuable experiences of disappointment, stress and hardship. Those times, while difficult, (and I do not wish hardship on anyone) can bring the greatest periods of growth in character and resilience.
Ultimately, as Peck says, “life is a mystery to be lived”. Life will be difficult, but it is also immensely rewarding and beautiful. We will see more beauty and experience greater joy and peace as we journey through all of life’s ups and downs. Rather than avoiding stress and life’s ills, see these times as an opportunity to grow in character and resilience. These traits will galvanise your resolve to be a blessing to others and enjoy every moment given to us.
As parents, rather than seeking to protect your children, love them by walking beside them. Encourage them. Help them to solve their own problems. Allow them to fail, to experience stress and disappointment, and show them that life as a mystery to be lived. Just as importantly, allow them to see that sometimes you fail and experience difficulty, but you too are committed to persevering and finding solutions to your life challenges.