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My Mother, My Coach
Mom with a View

My Mother, My Coach

Like a football coach, our overriding goal is to help our children realize their potential.


There may still be some naive parents out there who don't feel the need to study conflict resolution. Their children are young and they are confident that a mere "no" from their lips ends all discussion. Oh how I envy their certainty. And boy oh boy, are they in for a big surprise! Eventually they are going to run into a brick wall of defiance and refusal.

How do we cope? What tools do we have in our arsenal to help resolve this impasse?

I recently heard a helpful story. A mother was struggling with her son. He was surly and unresponsive. He refused to listen to any of her constant barrage of helpful suggestions "Sit up straight" "Button your shirt" "Brush your hair" "Look at me when I'm talking to you." She felt frustrated (as did her son) and powerless.

Yet she witnessed an amazing thing on the football field. When this same child's coach offered constructive criticism -- even along the same lines -- her son obeyed. He stood straighter, his uniform was clean and neat (before the game anyway), he looked his coach straight in the eye, and he answered "Yes, sir!"

What was the difference? Although I would certainly advise this mother to stop the litany of complaints and focus on one major point, that wasn't the real secret. Her son listened to his coach because:

1. He wanted to continue playing football (the fear of consequences element)

and 2. He knew that he and his coach were on the same team. His coach was on his side and believed in him.

All coaches get frustrated at times. But his overriding goal was to help his players realize their potential.

Parents need to have the same goal. And our children need to know and experience that. On those rare occasions when we do give our children "tips for growth," it has to be because we care, because it's for their good, because we truly believe in their potential -- and NOT to satisfy any of our needs. It can't be because we feel frustrated, because we'd like things to run more smoothly, and especially not because we're concerned about what the neighbors will say.

Our loyalty to our children comes first, our belief in them is paramount.

A second tool at our disposal is our love. Parenting is a balance between love and discipline but the love should ALWAYS be dominant. We shouldn't avoid discipline because it makes us uncomfortable, but we should use it sparingly and thoughtfully.

We all know that consistency between parents is one of the secrets to successful child-raising. Whenever there is a conflict between the desire to show love and the need to set limits, it is better to err on the side of love (caveat: don't equate love with permissiveness). This doesn't mean no discipline; it means it should be rare. Everyone needs structure and limits. And then they need room within those parameters to grow and soar.

We need to give our children both. If they know we believe in them, it will be easier for them to accept some guidance. And if it truly springs only from love, it will be easier to give it.

January 17, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 3

(3) arpitaraval, August 12, 2012 6:16 AM

it is a very nice essay

(2) Simon, January 20, 2009 8:50 AM

Overiding goal, helping the players realize their potential.

Now that my father and mother are gone l have been left to do what they have done for me, to bring up my siblings give them a starting push and leave and the cycle continues. True you said it, frustration is part of the game, mothers are able to handle this part best. The bible says that we can vex God's Spirit. I need to live a life that my kids can emulate but how can l through me help them realize their potential. What about the bit on love and discipline it is like learning how to do a hill start in a manual car, can be frustrating but can be learnt. I have to say that this we fail en mass. The book of Proverbs advise to teach kids the right way while they can be molded to avoid breaking them later. True, Love is the lubrication oil. A good article for parents to ponder before too late and time to leave. Thanks.

(1) MB, January 13, 2009 8:27 AM

Boys learn first and best from their mothers.

Boys learn the traits of honesty, caring, valor and many other positive traits from their mother. Mothers must speak of these things to their children whenever the opportunity arises.

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