Today my brave, strong, self-sacrificing son declared that he can't wait for wrestling season to be over.
This spoken by a senior who has wrestled varsity for four years and been a team captain since freshman year. Each year he has won awards from his coaches for his hard work and successful matches. And tonight, he told me he's done with wrestling.
Oh, he'll finish the season. He'll give it his best. He'll be on the sidelines cheering his little brother and teammates, but the passion is gone.
Why? Because one coach told him he didn't have what it takes to be a state champion. "No matter what I do," my son said, "it's not good enough."
The sad part of all this is that coach really wants my son to do well. I know he does. What he doesn't realize is his motivational plan is backfiring. And my eyes are wide open.
I may never have told my kids they don't have what it takes to succeed, but I've tried to motivate them in wrong ways. Especially using guilt trips to get them to do what I want.
I've worked for hours on laundry! The least you can do is NOT throw your clothes on the floor!
I've slaved for hours in the kitchen, please clear the dishes without being asked!
Your father and I work hard all week, is it too much to ask you to ___________??
It doesn't work! At least not in the long run. There's no heart change when I get what I want through guilt nagging.
While I want to vent and complain about how this coach talked to my son, I'm redirecting my focus to how I talk to my son (and other sons and daughters).
Motivating through shame or guilt doesn't bring about the lasting result any parent (or coach) wants. Motivating through a win-win situation does - but that takes more work, and honesty about where that guilt and shaming comes from. Plus it takes self-control on the part of the adult.
It would have been so much more satisfying to have ranted. But I guess God needed me to learn something.
And you can bet I'll be doing my best to counteract the negative talk that entered my son's ears with the truth about his potential. And guarding my own tongue with all my children.
Grace & Peace,