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I just got a call from a friend of mine asking me for advice on a sticky situation with her ten year-old son. She told me the details and we talked about different ways it might have gone. It was an issue at school and about her chance to teach him the idea of standing up for himself. But it didn’t go exactly as planned and no one felt good when it was over.

I told her my opinion and she was grateful for my advice both on what she might do next time, but also on what she can still do this time. But really, I don’t have all the answers. My way is not the right way, and her way, although unsatisfying was not the wrong way. After talking, she wished she’d done it differently and called it a bad parenting moment. To me, it is part of the process. I give her credit for calling and asking for ideas, for bouncing her experience off of someone with older kids, someone whose had more time to see things play out over time.

But I told her that my way is only one way, and she might ask around for other people’s opinions, collect ideas and see where all the voices converge because you really have to come up with your own way. Not only that, I told her, take a look at what when on today and recognize that even though it felt like the wrong things happened, some percentage of what happened you have to be glad of. You cared and you tried. You attempted to help your son and you took action that was intended to change a bad situation. These are good things, and they show a caring parent trying her best to assist her child.

Hallelujah for all of that.