Despite the picture I may be painting of them in my previous posts, I actually have some wonderful parents. They love me. They even tough love me. And I think a parent isn’t doing their job right unless they show their kids some tough love from time to time. It’s unfortunate, but I think you can partially measure your success as a parent sometimes by how much your kids momentarily hate you. I learned the virtues of tough love by quitting soccer.
I’m not sure how old I was, but sometime in middle school I begged and begged and begged my parents to let me play soccer. They tried telling me that if I joined it would mean a lot of time after school and on the weekends. I convinced them (and myself I guess) that I was totally cool with that.
Well, about 3 days into practice I discovered something about myself:
I. Hate. Running.
I think I look awkward doing it, and I’m just not very good at it. But I knew I couldn’t go to my parents and tell them that, so instead I came up with a “genius” plan. After soccer practice one day, I approached my mom first and told her that I really wanted to play piano but wasn’t sure I could fit it in with soccer practice. Yup, I was totally being manipulative. I knew my mom wanted me to play piano. She had begged, and begged, and begged me as much as I had begged her to play soccer. Well it worked…kind of.
She told me she was great with it, but that I’d have to talk to my dad about it.
I spent the next few hours working up the courage to talk to my dad. When he finally got home I told him, “I want to play piano, but don’t think I can make it fit in my day because of soccer.”
He barely hesitated and said, “Okay.”
Wait. What? That was easy! I had to suppress a grin. I had done it! I had won! No more running ever again!
“But you have to tell your coach,” my dad said.
The next day my drove me to practice and walked with me out to the field to meet coach. I could hardly make eye contact, but dad nudged me and said, “Go on. Tell him.” Oh, that was embarrassing and awful! I can still feel exactly how it felt to say, “I don’t want to play soccer because I’d rather play piano.”
Long story short, coach said he “understood” and we drove home in awkward silence.
Back to my original point…. I am glad my dad made me do that horrible thing. I hated it then, but looking back I’ve learned the value of having to face your own excuses. It makes it harder to make up lame excuses when you know you’ll have to face them eventually.
So, if you’re a parent: Your kids don’t have to like you right now! Make them do hard things!
If you’re a kid: Your parents love you. And “love” doesn’t mean you never have to feel uncomfortable. Sometimes it means you have to do things you don’t want to. Deal with it! You’ll thank your parents some day. Trust me.