Solve one problem at a time

Years ago when my children were small, I remember someone saying, “Small children; small problems. Big children; big problems.”
Thinking back, I wouldn’t say that was true, although the problems were different at every stage.
When we had our first child, I was 31. But my career until then had not included “baby training.”
Fortunately, at that time, mothers stayed in the hospital seven days. But the eighth day . . . that’s when the problems began.
In the first place, this baby was just too small to carry around so we carried her on a pillow.
Then the first evening, we had two sets of unexpected visitors. First, Harold and Carolyn from college days stopped in and told us they had moved to Edmonton for the summer while Harold was working on his dissertation.
We had a nice conversation and they admired our beautiful baby on the pillow.
Next, Art and Lois from Pennsylvania rang the doorbell. They were just passing through and stayed for the night.
What a relief for me because Art was a medical doctor. When our baby cried inconsolably in the middle of the night, I suggested we should wake up Art.
Being more sensible, my husband said, “He wouldn’t know what to do!”
Fast forward three years. My three-year-old was playing in the front yard with some older children when a burly five-year-old boy knocked her down flat on her back. She cried.
I thought, “Is this my problem?” No, it was her problem.
I watched until she got up and began playing again. I knew I wouldn’t always be there and she had to learn to take care of herself.
What worried me most–when, as a five-year-old, she began playschool–was the walk to school with Wayne and Larry. Could she hold her own?
But an amazing thing happened. Wayne and Larry, also five-year-olds, were at the front door when it was time to go. One on each side, they escorted her and took care of her all year.
And then she had another problem. One day, obviously troubled, she announced, “I told Wayne and Larry I can’t marry both of them.”
Big problems; small problems! One thing is sure: it doesn’t matter how long you live, you’ll never outlive your problems.
As we age, it sometimes seems our problems get bigger. On the other hand, we have 70 or 80 years of life experience to help.
So when faced with a problem, just remember a few common-sense rules:
1). The first thing is to make sure it’s your problem.
Don’t try to solve other people’s problems. That never works.
2). Then define the problem. Is it big or small? Don’t over-dramatize.
3). Think of alternative solutions.
4). If it’s really a big one, seek help–from friends or family, or your pastor or a counsellor.
But don’t be pushed. After all, it’s your life. Decide what’s best for you.
Remember, you’ve solved many problems before. Just keep solving one problem at a time as they arise.
And you’ll have an excellent life!
Marie Snider is an award-winning health writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at