Fostering · Parenting


How do you deal with setbacks?

When something is in between you and a goal what is your response?

How hard are you willing to fight to overcome it?

I think the answer probably has something to do with whether or not you can see the end goal clearly.

This past weekend we were scheduled to go away for a much anticipated break with friends. It’s been a busy season and we have a full house. So full, we created a sixth bedroom so everyone could have their own space!

I was counting down to a weekend of camping, sitting by the fire, fishing and relaxing with friends.

Setback number one was vehicle issues. We were taking our trailer, and our truck suddenly was having issues that made it unsafe to use for towing. We managed to get around that when some friends offered us their truck for the weekend.

Setback number two was wiring issues. You’d think vehicle wiring would be plug and go, but it seems that was not the case and hubby spent most of Friday trying to get all the lights to work. It was frustrating, took longer than expected and didn’t ever work one hundred percent! So we set off on our 3 hour drive on Friday an hour and a half later than originally intended only to get a flat tire 40 minutes into the drive!

Hubby dutifully figured out where the jack and spare was and changed the tire on the side of a busy highway, but we couldn’t continue to where we were going on the spare. So we headed home, frustrated, tired and disappointed. We gave up. Started making Plan B and went to bed.

In the morning we regrouped and hubby headed off to see if the tire could be patched. Which it was! Thank you Trail Tire! And we headed off, determined to get our time away in spite of all the challenges! We arrived at noon on Saturday instead of 8 pm on Friday, but the day was beautiful and the fish were biting. We enjoyed a great supper with friends, sat around a campfire, and crawled into bed in our trailer content.

So why did we keep fighting to go in spite of all the setbacks?

I think the reason is that we could see the end goal clearly! We had been to this lake before and knew what we were going to! The picture was crystal clear and the desire to experience it again was strong!

As we work with people in the Foster Care System we often hear the criticism that people should do more for themselves, smarten up, just get a job, or stick with rehab. But here’s the thing…

All of those goals come with setbacks… and why should they do the work to overcome those obstacles if they can’t see where it is leading them to? If you have never experienced the financial peace of having a regular paycheque and job security, why should you get up and go to work day after day when you’re tired and it’s hard? If you’ve never had a stable relationship where you felt known and seen how do you keep managing your responses, going to therapy and forgiving the other person?

The Other Mother doesn’t know what it would look like to support herself and her children because she has never done it alone! When setbacks happened she could not see beyond them.

If you don’t have a clear picture of where you’re going it is hard to fight through the setbacks to keep moving that way!

Even little tasks are made simpler by being able to see the end product. If I say “Go make your bed.”, most people see a “made bed” in their mind without even realizing it and then they work backwards from that image to figure out what to do. For example, the pillow goes at the top, the blanket needs to be smooth and tidy… It seems simple.

Many kids who have trauma, FASD, or assorted other challenges have what is called Executive Disfunction and can’t see the end picture. They look at the messy bed and have no idea where to start because they can’t “see” what the final product looks like. We label it lazy, or disorganized or even disobedient, but we haven’t given them the tools they need to make the job happen.

How often have you stalled on a task or project because you don’t know the steps to get to the end goal? Now imagine not being able to “see” the end goal… how do you even start.

There are ways to help all of us “see” the end goal more clearly so that we all have a better chance of succeeding as we meet challenges head on. Some of those methods are simple such as post a picture of a made bed. Others are more complicated… get some training so you have the skills needed or make a detailed plan… but there are ways to help manage the paralysis that happens when you can’t “see” a way forward.

I hope that as you head into this season you have a clear picture of what you want and the courage to fight for it! We hope to help the kids we get to parent this season have a clear picture of the possibilities in their future and learn to overcome setbacks as they live their lives!

In the midst of the mess


One thought on “Setbacks

  1. One of your best posts yet. We all have challenges, small and large. It’s hard to set goals if you can’t imagine how to reach them, it’s true. Sometimes attaining a lot of little goals all of a sudden turns into, or becomes, a larger goal that initially you didn’t think was even possible.
    Keep the posts coming. A good read each time.


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