Let me start off by saying I'm probably not gonna win any "Father of The Year Awards" nor was I voted "Most Congenial" in my last executive role and I'm ok with that. But guess what, my kids aren't gonna win any "Kid of The Year Awards" and many of the young folks I managed have egos as fragile as a snowflake in the dessert.
If you're anything like me, whether you're a single parent or still married, co-parenting, managing or coaching anyone under the age of 25...whatever the case it doesn't matter...I'm sure there are times you wish you could sell your kid(s) or team members to the Gypsies for a dollar. I remember hearing my father tell me that when I was a teenager.....it all makes sense now.
Growing up as a student and a competitive athlete my parents supported me as long as I put in the effort. What they didn't do was interfere when a coach or teacher was correcting or in many cases, disciplining me. They would ask questions and use common sense to determine if the action was suitable, (which in 99% of the cases it was) and then support the coach or teacher and let them carry on without being overruled, or governed or lectured or interfered with.
Too many times I see parents today run to the aid of "little Johnny or Susan" afraid that someone else is being too strict or tough on them. And that their fragile little ego will suffer and be bruised for the rest of their lives.
Come on folks....you're not doing your kids any favours by helicoptering over them every time they run into adversity or have to deal with discipline. Chances are, most times they deserve the consequences. And that can be anything from a detention to limited playing time in their sport or a shift in their position. We have to allow the coaches and teachers whom we have entrusted our kids too to make those tough decisions. Let them get used to someone being tough on them...it creates character, accountability and integrity. Life's NOT fair at best. The idea of everyone getting an award or not keeping score falls right in line with this "everyone is special" culture we are raising. The truth is, NOT everyone is special and there are winners and there are losers and that's life.
There is an opportunity now to engrain work ethic and accountability in these young adults. Sometimes we have to let them fail or fall or scrape their knee without the safety net of mom or dad. Let them get up and dust themselves off and figure it out. It's not easy as a parent to watch this but I promise you it will pay dividends in the end.
Let me give you an example...I had an interesting conversation with my 16 year old son over the weekend. Just to put this into context...he has chosen to live with me full time and we have had many many trying moments and struggles with power and assertiveness. For the record I love him to death and I know he has a very bright future ahead of him but I'm not about to pave the way with rose petals and misconceptions about what the world is really about. So, that said, he recently got his G1 which is the equivalent to a learners permit. The rule is that he has to have an adult over the age of 21 with a full license in the vehicle with him. So we headed out in my Ram pick-up for some quality time together.
As we drove down a long straight stretch of road I found our conversation start to open up. He was telling me about some of the things going in his life and I let him flow. It's not often that he feels comfortable enough to open up so I asked questions and let him talk. It was almost cathartic...lol.
I've tried to raise my son very similar to the way I was raised with respect for adults and parents and teachers and authority figures being at the base of the hierarchy of all that comes after. I'm tough on him and and sometimes demanding. I don't buy him everything he wants. He has a job, He makes his own money and there are things he knows he has to pay for if he wants them. He is a very spirited kid and we talked about that as we drove down along the road at dusk. Me making sure both his hands were on the wheel while I explained to him what I meant when I said he was high maintenance. He shared with me something that reaffirmed that what I was doing was sinking in, in a positive way. Probably the best compliment a father could get....in a moment of enlightenment he said .."You know dad, I'll tell you this now and I may not admit it when we are arguing but I really appreciate the way you deal with me. You talk to me and teach me things that none of my other friends parents do. I don't always agree with you but I know what you're doing is gonna make me a better man!"
At that moment I turned my head to him and smiled the biggest grin out beneath my ball-cap and sunglasses. I told him he was doing a great job and that I loved him and was proud of him. Then I turned back towards the window and let a tear run down my cheek. Tough love works!