Parenting has a ton of nuances.
You’re doing it even when you’re not doing it. You’re doing it, especially when you’re not doing it because little eyes are watching you. And also, you’re practicing those characteristics you’ll call on later when you are parenting.
It’s not the big moments, but the incremental tangles and triumphs that lead to what you become as a parent – and what direction your child takes as a result.
This list could have been 55 things, but I kept it to five. Let’s talk about it. Feel free to add to these five, or bring up an observable aspect of your own. Parenting has changed my life and shaped what I’ve become as a coach and a writer and so much more.
I see these things in my kids, but also in those I coach and even little rugrats you cross paths with at Target or Trader Joe’s or Trinity Church.
These are five I’ve by no means mastered or even conquered a corner of. But I know they’re important – like green beans and smoke alarm batteries – and isn’t that a big part of the battle anyway?
It’s cool when I get the younger sibling of a former player. They’re like their brother or sister, but different. Like a burrito from a different restaurant. It’s important to recognize that. One mom recently talked to me about her second son coming to my team.
“He’s not Brendan*,” she said about Kameron*. “He just doesn’t have the talent or drive his brother does.”
Only, I’d seen him really busting it in practice. Who knew what Kameron could do if he could just walk the soccer path on his own? Well, a hat trick, maybe. That’s exactly what he did in his first game. Three goals!
*-names changed, of course. Or are they?
Do this: Tell your kid you have their back. And then have it. Forever.
It’s the next step of unconditional love.
Believing in your child might not bring all the goals she sets. Not having confidence in her might hinder her from believing she can. We know how gratifying someone’s faith in us has on our psyche. Imagine that’s from a parent you love and admire.
It builds early on when we encourage kids to take chances and give their best. They remember that stuff.
Do this: Ask your child what their expectations are. If they’re low, ask why. Maybe share a story from your childhood in which you were able to exceed your own expectations.
I challenged Hayden and Camdyn and their belief in mermaids. You’ve never seen a mermaid, have you? So why believe? It took a moment, but Hayden delighted in answering, You’ve never seen the Rockies win the championship, have you? So why believe?
Touche, kid, touche.
Our mermaid-Rockies conversation was a fun one. A child can sense that you anticipate good outcomes (it won’t rain for the party, we’ll get there in time, you’ll make new friends), and it becomes more common in their mindset, too.
Do this: When something goes wrong, find the positive. If plans for a fun day get canceled, frame it as a chance to do something else they really wanted to do instead.
It’s best when we display it ourselves.
We have bad days. So do kids. Give them a break. I’m not saying don’t hold them accountable, but understand. Sometimes it’s a rough week in class. Sometimes it’s a kid who has trouble getting a sweater over her head. Life can become frustrating.
When a kid acts out, I try to see if they’re good first – if something has put them in a bad way. We can tackle the tough stuff together.
Do this: Get on a kid’s level and ask, what’s going on? before you growl about how it’s not cool to hurl a bowl across the floor. At least give the kid a chance to vocalize before it’s an automatic trip to timeout/taking their phone.
5-TIMES TO SAY ‘NO’
This is the toughest for me. I’d drive all night to make sure my girls are delivered anywhere safely. Sometimes, it’s not feasible. We can’t say yes to every whim, especially. If it works, I’m behind you, I’ll say.
there’s that line between moving heaven and earth for a kid and not being able to do something, they have an understanding – and appreciation – for not only what we do for them as parents, but that sometimes we simply can’t.
It also helps to make plans a group effort. If it seems a parent is doing all the work – making plans, packing snacks, looking up schedules – we’re more a servant than a leader. Get them involved in invested if it’s something they want to do.
Do this: Be sure a child knows the logistics. We’ll have to get up early or This means we won’t be back in time for practice – what would your coach say? Sometimes, I’ve found, the ‘no’ comes from the kid when they weigh the consequences.
What do you think? Have examples you’ve seen of these five as a parent? Have any that you’d add to the list?