Last weekend, I wrote a post about the beginning of our 5-year-old’s baseball career. It did not start out in a shining way. Joshua hasn’t had alot of practice playing baseball, so he doesn’t yet understand how to field a ground ball, why you “run through” first base, or why you have to hit the cut off man from the outfield.
As a dad (which I think is often the case as a parent), it was very hard watching him out there at a different physical level than many of the rest of the boys. But it has caused some serious evaluations between Jana and I. Here are a few things about parenting, both in and out of sports, that I think the Lord is teaching me through this experience so far.
1. I have an incredible amount of influence over my children, whether I want to or not. I can’t be passive in the process of parenting. If I’m stressed, my son will be stressed. If I’m having fun, he’s going to have fun. And if I’m pressuring him, he’s going to feel pressure. One of the most dangerous things, I think, we can do as parents is fail to realize how much we can really influence our children.
2. Culture will dictate values to our children unless we take an active role in dictating values ourselves. There’s always going to be something to do between sports, music, and school. If we just go with the flow, we’ll never have dinner together again.
3. Kids have longer memories than we wish they would. Joshua got hit on the hand by a pitch the other night. Now he’s “stepping in the bucket” when he swings. And he freely admits it’s because he’s worried about getting hit again. He is now at the age where he’s going to remember. Alot. And the truth is, he’ll remember the bad stuff more than the good. We all do. We must as parents be our children’s biggest fans.
4. Sports, like alot of things, are important… but not that important. Teamwork, hard work, perserverance – you can learn about all these things from sports. But they’re not the beginning or the end of the world. I have to have that firmly in my mind if I want my children to have it in theirs.
5. Just because it’s “my thing” doesn’t mean it will be “their thing.” Everybody’s seen “that parent” on the sports field – the one who obviously was some kind of an athlete in their own day and therefore the expectation is for their child to also be an athlete. I assume the same thing is true about musicians, artists, and other folks. I was a slightly better than average athlete, but that doesn’t mean my kids will be interested in that. I’ve got to check myself to make sure I’m not trying to enforce my passion on them but giving them freedom to be who they were made to be.
6. A good key to a successful practice, game, recital, rehearsal is whether or not you have a smile on your face at the end.