I just saw on the local news a story about parents getting into a fistfight, literally punching and kicking each other, at a girls 10-12 years old softball game! Yup! Grown up adults beating each other because one ref made a call they disagreed with. Now I’m aware the most Zen among us can get heated when it comes to the kids. We are a passionate people. The game is intense. We have opinions and personalities clash. But to these kids, who were crying and actively physically trying to interfere to stop the whole thing, it is not a game. This is their life.
The thought that came to my mind at seeing this was not “How could they?”
I know why they can. The pressure to be #1, to be the best, to be the one at the top, to have your kid be the lead, the star, the straight A student, is immense these days. We are measured as adults now by the performance of the children. The children are measured by their grade schools as to who they will be in college (10 years and 3 feet growth later!)
Everything hinges on appearances. Our kids make us look good. Everything we have is invested in who they are and how they perform.
As they recruiting slogan goes “Be all you can be.”
The word we have forgotten in that statement is repeated twice: BE.
Are we teaching the kids to be all they can BE? Or are we teaching them to be all they can Do? Do we want them to BE themselves, or are we teaching them that DOING and achieving is more important to life?
The thing is, kids will always do. Try stopping a kid (under the teen fatigue age) from doing. Can’t be done. Kids are always doing. They move constantly. That is the nature of the growth of the unbelievable energy of children. What they do, how they do, it and how we perceive it is secondary.
Kids do! That should be the new Nike slogan. What WE do with it? That is up to us. So, what are we doing with what kids do these days?
The one thing I see is we are taking life way too seriously. The joy of being a kid is discovery what you LIKE doing. That is the discovery of who you are to be. What do you enjoy? What do you love about life? What hobby have you discovered that thrills you, that lifts you up, that makes you look forward to the day? Remember that feeling? Remember that love? That is what childhood is for! Childhood is for the fun! The fun of being a kid!
I believe that by pressuring kids to do more, achieve more, accomplish more, strive more, push harder, and be more, we are losing the fun of discovery that comes with being a child.
And perhaps in the process we are losing the fun of being a parent too.
This summer take a look at how intense you got about your children’s achievements, their activities, their grades, their wins and losses. What triggered you? Are you about to start the next parent brawl? Why?
Catch yourself and take that big deep breath. And ask, “Where is the fun?”
Kids know how to do. Kids know how to have fun. Maybe we just need to sit back, relax, and let them be. Becoming who they are is the most important job they will ever achieve in childhood. You get to decide where you place in that journey. What do you choose?
(aka JP Starre)
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