Being active in my child’s life is a must for me as a father. I want to support and mentor my children in anything they want to tackle. It’s important for me to listen to them tell me about their favorite superhero or pay attention to the picture they just drew of something crazy, not only because it lets me be part of what is important to them, but also because later in life, I want them to be able to share things with Dad when things become challenging. Being active in all that they do is a must to truly be the leader and mentor they look up to rather than a disciplinarian they are scared of. I would prefer them to not want to disappoint me as opposed to being fearful of me. In most cases, better results and effort happen when a person desires someone to be proud of him or her, not when he or she is scared of the consequences. Life will teach kids enough tough lessons, and as a parent, you shouldn’t feel the need to make life harder for them. Be there to support, teach, and mentor them into young adults. Don’t get me wrong, there are times that discipline is essential to teach lessons, and during those times, we as parents have a huge task to complete.
When supporting my son as a coach for his youth baseball activities, I get the opportunity to see many of our youth do something they love to do. It amazes me sometimes to see kids being yelled at for not catching a pop-up or being scolded for swinging and missing a pitch. I even had a kid tell me one time that he could not think when his dad yells! It’s a humbling experience to have a six year-old look at you with tears in his eyes about a T-Ball game. There are many things in life he will cry about, but a T-Ball game should not be one of those things. Sure, all of us want our kids to do well and achieve greatness. However, a simple thing to remember is that in order to be great at anything, you must first enjoy it. How many kids do you think enjoy being yelled at and crying in front of their peers?
I recently read an article about a survey of 10,000 kids from the ages of 6-12 from all over the nation where the survey asked them “What is the hardest part about playing recreation baseball?” The overwhelming majority did not answer striking out, or trying to catch a fly ball. They answered the ride home with my mom and dad after losing. Think about that for a minute. We as parents and coaches need to spend more time focusing on effort, teamwork, and sportsmanship. We need to stay away from the wins and losses. Teach kids that it’s okay to fail as long as they try their best and get up and try again. We need to focus on making them better at the sport they love and that starts with allowing them to enjoy what they are doing. Let’s put the fun back into the sport, and you’ll be amazed at how much we can accomplish!
By Jason Young