By Charles G. Hanna
My daughter is finishing grade 6 and everyone in her class had to apply
to an intermediate school. The selection process is quite grueling but I
was very confident that she would be accepted in one or both of the
schools she applied to. As the announcement date approached, the stress
experienced by these children became more and more evident.
That morning, I received an email from the first school indicating that
she was not selected and placed on a Wait List due to space constraints.
I was stunned. It was the easier of the two schools and she did not
make it to that. Never did I consider such a possibility. I was with her
throughout the process and thought she did exemplary. A million
questions started to fill my mind, starting with Why? Why? Why? Five
minutes later, she ran into my room and in a very excited voice asked me
if I heard from the schools yet. I was not ready to deliver the bad
news, so despite my somber state I put on a happy face and said not yet.
Later that afternoon I got the bad news from the second school.
On my way to pick her up from school I was tormented the whole way
asking myself, Is she not good enough? What did I miss? Was it my fault
that I did not get her tutors or assist her more with the application
process? When she saw me she came running with great excitement and her
first words were "Daddy, did you hear from the schools?" I was still not
at all ready and said no, and instead I asked her what her friends
heard. She told me that all her best friends got into the schools of
their choice. That night I could not sleep and kept thinking She will be
left behind. How will she take the news? Is this going to destroy her
self-esteem? How can I protect her from this cruel turn of events?
The next day I told her about the first school and she was shaken. Then
she asked me suspiciously about the second school and I had to tell her
that too. As soon as I did she started to cry. It felt like a knife was
cutting through my heart. I composed myself as much as I could and told
her that bad things sometimes happen but always for a good reason. She
countered by saying "that is not true!" I said, "Yes even if we cannot
see at the time."
The next day I started to reflect on my belief that things always work
out for the best. I reminded myself that this was not about me – It’s
about my young daughter who has to learn a hard lesson so early in life.
How can I help her deal with this without emotional scarring? I am
aware that my perception can cause me to view situations like this with
fear and shame and I learned to correct that perception, but in this
case it was my daughter's emotions that I was worried about.
That was the moment I got my clarity. I suddenly realized that it is I
who needs to deal with this, not her. I asked myself if I truly and
completely believed that this is for the best? My answer was a
resounding yes! Well then, what was the problem? There was none! What
became clear is that it is I who felt the anguish and fear and shame. It
is I who needs to process these negative feelings not her. She does not
even have these feelings and I was about to inadvertently instill my
own prejudices and negative perception onto her and then try to fix her,
like breaking a glass and then trying to put it back together. I
realized that if I was at peace with the outcome she would be too, and I
could then focus on guiding her positively through it. What an
The next few days we found another great school and even a shot at her
favorite one in another month although she was already happy with one we
selected. My daughter continued to be as happy and cheerful as usual.
The point is that while this story has a happy ending, the real gift is
that I did not pass my self-centered fears to her and instead helped her
see the good within adversity that would guide her for better serenity
Here are four ways to apply this lesson when your child or any loved one faces a difficult situation:
1. Stay in the moment and be focused because they need you right now.
2. Make sure that you are totally without any negative feelings with
their situation. True positive serenity is the best support that you
can give to them.
3. Guide them to see the positive that could come out of it.
4. Help them avoid making decisions based on negative emotions that they may still have.
Charles G. Hanna is the
author of Higher: Awaken to a More Fulfilling Life and a devoted father
of three children. For more information, please visit