Parents, let’s have a come to Jesus moment, shall we?
“You know what makes me sick to my stomach? When I hear grown people say that kids have changed. Kids haven’t changed. Kids don’t know anything about anything. We’ve changed as adults. We demand less of kids. We expect less of kids. We make their lives easier instead of preparing them for what life is truly about. We’re the ones that have changed.” -Frank Martin S.C. Head Basketball Coach
I read this quote the other day and I found that it scratched an itch of mine that tends to bring up much irritation in my mind. This quote was by a gentleman that spends his life trying to get young adults to perform at a high level and is then judged by their performance for his annual review. It stands to reason then that the character of the young adults that he recruits every year might matter to him and that he might be a skilled craftsman at evaluating that said character especially after 26 years in the industry. Then with that assumption in mind, it would also stand to reason that he can identify trends in our society within that particular focus. Now, I am saying that he is James Dobson with “Focus on the Family” and has all the answers to our parenting miscues, no. However, I am saying I bet he can identify the type of young adult that he wants in his program regardless of their athletic skill set and the type of parenting that supports it.
As a baseball coach I see all types of parents, from many different teams, but inevitably every team has a set of parents who are far too into their kid’s athletic career and probably even more so than their own athlete is. Parents are willing to go to great lengths to make sure that their kid makes the team (whichever one that is that they deem valuable) including defending their poor performance at try-outs. Explaining why the athlete has not done any work at home outside of practice, and I could go on and on. But ultimately this points to a parenting issue, I know that is hard to hear, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I also know that you’re just trying to protect Sally or Billy because you want them to have the greatest childhood and to be successful so that one day they are going to turn around and give you the greatest parent award. But ultimately that is not about Billy or Sally and what is best for them. That is about you and quite frankly, it is selfish. Because that is about you being proud of you and being able to tell your co-worker that your son or daughter made this team or received that reward.
Our job as parents is to teach them how to navigate this life without us. My parents never discussed my playing time, field position, or jersey number with my high school coach. In fact, I don’t think they ever even talked to my college coach after my recruitment period was over. A parents job is to teach, plain and simple. If you’re a parent then you’re a teacher and you’re teaching your child every day with your attitude, actions, skills, and don’t forget your reactions. If we react to our child falling down with cuddles, kisses, and band-aids when they are 1-year old that is fine, but when they are 8 years old probably not. That is an opportunity to discuss the words “injury vs. hurt” and provide the understanding when you’re injured you go to the hospital, but when your hurt you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, you wipe away anything that might have possibly resembled a tear and then you try again.
I cannot tell you the number of kids I see on weekends crying because they hit a pop-up or grounded out. This is really sad because in real life you cannot hit the reset button and start the game over just because it didn’t go your way! And if you think as a parent that Sally or Billy hitting a ground ball to the second baseman and getting thrown out by 30 feet is hard on her or him, then real life is going to crush your kid. Ultimately this world is not fair, it is not wanting your kid to be successful, they have to work hard for that to happen and the only way they can learn that is to be taught.
They have to see the realities of life and that you work hard in everything you do. They have to understand that we all live under authority and that we can’t always control what happens to us but we can control our reaction to it. That ultimately our response to situations in life is what matters the most not necessarily always the end result. We need to stop giving out the proverbial participation trophy and start teaching our children that just showing up doesn’t deserve a reward. If you want something then you have to go get it and to teach our children any differently is to set them up for failure and your reward will be them living in the basement wearing a Batman costume at 30. Let your child fail and let them learn from it. Teach them scripture and walk every day with them teaching diligently, as our ultimate authority has directed us as parents to do.
American culture is teaching children to be soft, weak, and entitled. This is an everyday battle for your children’s lives and us as parents cannot be lazy and allow the iPad or T.V. to teach them how to live.