Tough experiences lead to growth

July 14, 2011|Lisa Prejean

What have your children learned so far this summer?

Have they been playing outside? Wonderful. Before we know it, the fall sports season will begin. They'll already be in shape.

Have they been reading? Fantastic. Experts tell us that reading is one of the best ways kids can keep their minds active over the summer.

Have they practiced a musical instrument? Terrific. Playing musical instruments helps their brains make connections.

Have they created something with their hands? Excellent. Artwork enables them to appreciate beauty in the world.

Have they spent time with their friends? Great. Social skills are important, no matter what career they pursue.

Have they had a tough experience that helped them grow? Good. They will be more mature when school begins.

What's that you say? This example really doesn't fit with the other ones?

Yeah, I know, and I wish I didn't feel compelled to list it. But it is reality.

Adversity forces us to examine the world around us and our preconceived notions of how things are. When our struggles seem intense, our coping skills develop.

This recently happened in our family. The phone ringing shortly after midnight should have been my first clue that something was wrong.

My son was attending a weeklong basketball camp several hours from home.

As the phone rang very early that morning, I was so glad to hear from him — plus I was rather groggy from being awakened — I didn't initially notice that his vocal tone didn't sound right. Something was wrong.

He proceeded to tell me that there was a thief in the camp and that several of the boys had money stolen right out of their wallets.

"That's terrible," I said, not fully understanding the impact of his words.

Little did I know that he was one of the thief's targets. That detail came next. His wallet had been cleaned out. Thankfully, the thief didn't take his Learner's Permit.

(Now, this is the difference between boys and girls. My daughter would have started the conversation with, "Mom, I've been robbed!!!!" My son talked to me for 10 minutes before he broke the news.)

It was hard for both of our kids to understand how someone could open a gym bag, take out a wallet, remove money from that wallet and feel no remorse.

They questioned: How can a person think that it is OK to take something that doesn't belong to him?

I answered: His parents probably didn't teach him the value of hard work. If you work hard and do a good job, you will receive a reward ... be it a paycheck or a prize. Or, in the case of children and teens with chores, a roof over your heads and meals on the table.

My son learned that, when traveling, it's best not to keep all his money in one place. He also learned to be thankful for all the chores he performs around the house.

(Well, let's just say that's what I hope happens.)

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail. Email

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