Determination. Drive. Heart. Commitment. Winning. These are all part of the motivational words we use when we talk about athletes, and we use it to define success and often we use benchmarks to compare each other based on results and the outcomes of competition. I see people like Tiger Woods and look at how he and his Dad had a special relationship about where Tiger as a child wanted to go and what it means to set goals and look at those as watermarks to strive to achieve greatness. His dad pushed, if not outright shoved him into the spotlight, making him mentally tough, making him concentrate on skills and making him shoot for the stars and keep his mind focused on being the best in the world. If there is one guy I would like to play a round of golf with it would be him. Not because I think it would be great to play a round of golf with one of the greats, but because I would love to talk to him about how his father helped him to become the man he is today and all that entails (not all things turned out successful as we all know, but that’s another post completely).
In the height of my own golf career, such that it was, I saw this as a way to compete and a way to stay in a game that mattered less about physical skills and more on the mental aspects of the game. I was not that great but I had my moments. I just knew I could play a game with my kids, and went as far as to name my firstborn after the famous golfer pictured here. I wanted my child to be great at sports be the best at whatever she chose as her path. As it turns out, she will not be the next one to win the cup in golf, but she chose basketball as her sport.
I don’t want you the reader to think this post is only about sports, I think it applies to all aspects of parenting and the path chosen by our kids. We as parents want to help guide our children whatever the hobby or sport or instrument is they choose. My daughter also plays the violin, loves to write and can sing pretty well too, however, her passion is on the court playing basketball. I’m a short, white guy who can’t jump, so you know the basketball gene was not mine but she is good at it. l give full credit to Mommy who can play circles around me. My sons have yet to really choose “their thing” unless of course you think video games as the next sport or skilled professional, but I am sure they would be great if it was.
I am now helping my daughter be successful in her chosen world. We have her playing in a competitive league that travels and is almost professional in its own right. It is a financial commitment and a time commitment. We hear of the sacrifices made by parents of Olympic athletes that took their daughter to the ice rink at 5:00 a.m. to get ice time for their skating practice. This is not too far from that same commitment and sacrifice. As a Dad, I am helping her with the foundation that she needs to be in a position to succeed. The words that started this piece are words we live by in our family. Heck our family motto is “Work Hard – Play Hard.”
My question to parents out there is this, “How much is too much?” I am always afraid of being too zealous in my pushing and trying to get the most of her abilities, and finding that line to keep pushing her to the maximum point she can handle and being there to guide her to the next level. Most humans will at some point want to quit, or to take the easy road. I tried to quit a number of times growing up when playing sports, but my parents made me keep my promise to myself and my teammates. I am so glad they kept me focused on that and focused on how to be the best I could. It allowed me to play at the varsity level in high school and even play at the college level. They didn’t push near as much as they could have but my parents knew then the value of their guidance. How much should I keep my foot on the gas? I don’t want to push too far, but it is a fine line I seek. You are probably pushing too but don’t realize to the extent you might be doing it. You want your child to succeed at walking so we coach and teach and keep trying day in and out to get that first step. Did you push too hard for that first step? Don’t even get me started on potty training. My daughter walked at nine months, her brother right after her I thought would be crawling down the aisle to accept his diploma at high school.
We Dads can be a competitive lot and we have egos and chest bumps to match. Does this equate to being a drill sergeant on the court and in the classroom, on the stage and other places our kids must compete? “My dad can beat up your dad” is when our competitiveness begins. We want to one up our competition in each phase. Does that translate to how we want our kids to be? Am I driving my child to the couch in a therapy session? Are you pushing your kids? If so, how much?
Photo via BBC