I’ve experienced this only once or twice in the last decade, an instance where an athlete acted nothing like his or her parent.
And in each case it was because they were taking after the other parent. Like father, like son - it’s a lesson that can’t be preached enough because it’s difficult to see when you’re the father or son or mother or daughter. I believe we live our lives according to a philosophy that’s constantly running in the background whether you realize it or not. What’s your philosophy? Why do you make the choices you make?
How does your philosophy as a parent affect your children?
Most parents claim their children set their own goals and make their own decisions. It’s great when we encourage them to do so, but just like the best leaders in hockey, we can lead by example. We can try to draw lines between sports and how they affect our day-to-day lives, but ultimately it’s the kids themselves who need to sort through the angst and emotion of being A) a teenager (usually) and B) a teenager playing an elite sport. The experiences of playing a sport, both good and bad, shape the people these athletes will become, and ignoring the downs while only celebrating the ups will teach young men and women to hide from their problems.
How do we teach accountability?
The only way to learn from your mistakes is to make mistakes. Which is good news because most of us make mistakes from time to time. Why, just yesterday I forgot my foot socks, so I had to put my skates on barefoot. This is why I rarely harp on players for forgetting their water bottles. Accountability can be taught by using moments of disappointment to look inward first and find reasons for the mistakes. Mistakes can be physical, such as turning a puck over, or they can be mental, such as forgetting your foot socks. One thing is for sure, being a victim accomplishes nothing. And you know it, you’ve seen it, kids playing the victim leads to entitlement and damages resiliency.
How do you find the right level of involvement?
Difficult things in life are what shapes us all. Difficult is a wide reaching statement - people encounter difficulty because of other kids at school, people have difficult childhoods and people encounter difficulty when a loved one is ill. There’s no measurement of difficulty, only it either exists or it doesn’t. So how do we get involved to the right degree? Well, if difficulty can’t be measured, then involvement can’t really be measured either. The only constant of adversity is that it will come, and how you deal with it is what will define you. It’s like Winston Churchill said: if you’re going through hell, keep going.
Should you be proud of your children no matter what?
That’s not what I’m saying. Kids screw up. They’re kids, they don’t have the long-term life skills adults have acquired over countless trials and tribulations. And we still forget our socks or forget to clean up the coffee stain on the carpet. But they deserve your love and support no matter what, in fact, the tough times call for encouragement moreso than the good times. When the hockey season grows long during the mid-November dip, or when homework piles up or illness strikes, remember, it’s you they look to for an example.
I’m not a parent and I don’t have any idea how hard it truly is to shape your child into the person you’d like them to be. However, I might be a child psychologist, given how much I’ve been on the ice with children over the last 14 years. Or perhaps I’ve gone truly insane at this point.
In any event, it takes a village to raise a child. Let’s make our village the best village around.