I believed the lie. The same lie so many others have bought into. “This is for her, I’m helping”. After all, an involved, active parent is supposed to be attentive and help our kids through life experiences, right?
She got in the car after tryouts and I barely said hello. “How was it? How did you feel you did? How were the other kids? Did you feel prepared? What did you do well at? Do you think you made it?” These are ok questions, aren’t they? They didn’t feel super high pressure in nature. I was smiling, I may have been pressing for info that she didn’t feel like talking about but I was just dying to know all the details. I wanted to know what to expect so I’d be ready to help her at the next step. I think..
It wasn’t until a little while later that night when I realized it hadn’t been about her at all. I was peppering her with questions, giving out advice, throwing life lessons and smothering her because I was uneasy about how she did. I was trying to solve problems that may or may not have even been there. I wanted to know every detail. All under the justification that it was for her benefit.
Here’s the truth. It was about me. I hadn’t handed her any tools in that moment, just a lot of words. If anything, I caused her to doubt and question my faith in her. Maybe even to doubt herself, her choices, her chances, without saying a single negative statement.
I know better. I read and write about positive culture. I detest what’s happened to our youth programs. But I am not immune to it in any way. It’s driven from our need to protect them. It’s propelled by our hopes for their success. It’s warped by our own ambitions. It’s spoiled by our own insecurities. It’s seeded in our own past experiences.
I’ve been reminded that I need to talk less and listen more. Advise when it’s needed, not just because I can. And to love. I need to love myself for my own past failures that sometimes make me feel the need to help her do better. I need to love her in a way that allows her to have her own experiences, to try to figure out how handle them first before I butt in, and to possibly fail if that’s what is in store for that experience. I need to be there for her, not with her.
Once the lie is exposed, it gets easier to build up our kids in a better way, a way that really is about them.