It’s Your Son’s Journey…Not Yours!

Alan Stein is one of the most well-known sports performance trainers in the world. In the January 2016 issue of Pure Sweat Basketball Stein writes: “Rule #1 and debatably the most common theme I see with parent/youth-athlete relationship is parents, you must embrace the fact that this is your child’s journey – not yours. Do not live vicariously through them. Put your focus on being a supportive and encouraging parent.” Parents should play a much more important role which is to help their child learn through the sport to help them become better members of society. Basketball, even for Steph Curry, is going to come and go in his life.

Whether your son is into sports, music, art or science…the last thing your son wants to hear from you, after a competition, is you rehashing and dissecting the competition. Your son hates to hear you critique his coach or teacher, and particularly his effort. Simply affirm your love for your son, your love of competition and his good effort. Notice him getting better, and be curious about his interest in the activity. Just let him be himself and have fun. After all, having fun is probably his #1 goal.

Dr. Edwin Friedman, author of Failure of Nerve – Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix writes that there are three universal laws regarding the children of all families that rose above their cultural and sociological characteristics.

  1. “The children who work through the natural problems of maturing with the least amount of emotional or physical residue are those whose parents have made them least important to their own salvation. (In other words, parents do not have to make their children the center of the universe. Children do better in relationships where the couple prioritizes their relationship over their kids.)
  2. Children rarely succeed in rising above the maturity level of their parents, and this principle applies to our mentoring, healing, or administrative relationships.
  3. Parents cannot produce change in a troubling child, no matter how caring, savvy, or intelligent they may be, until they become completely and totally fed up with their child’s behavior.”

In other words, parents need to objectively see the reality of their child’s poor behavior and not take responsibility away from the child. The child needs to experience the real-world implications of their actions–good or bad.

The most important thing you can do for your son will never trend on social media. Take time to hug him, tell him that you love him, help him with homework, teach him to throw a baseball, tuck him into bed at night, apologize for losing your temper, and say prayers with him. And when he doesn’t get straight A’s, be sure that he knows his value comes from being a child of God (imago dei) and from just being your son…and that’s enough. Your love for him is not based on his performance.

Questions for Reflection

  1. What do you really want your relationship between you and your son to look like?
  2. What might be the thing you need to “set right” based on how you’ve been parenting him?
  3. What do you need to stop doing now?
  4. What do you need to start doing now?

This is an excerpt from Tender Lions – Building the Vital Relationship Between Father and Son.

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