Monday, February 25, 2008
One of the toughest things as a parent is watching your child struggle or fail at something - particularly something you excelled at when you were young. But, even tougher than watching your child fail is allowing your son or daughter to fail.
As a dad, when I see either of my little boys struggle, my tendency is to protect them from failure. I step in. I rescue them. Not because they want to be rescued, but because it hurts me to see them make errors and mistakes. But, isn't that how we all learn...through our mistakes??
It's funny. My sons' mistakes bother me a heck of a lot more than they bother them. They don't think much of it. They shrug it off, and they're ready to try again. That is, until I discourage them with negative words, expressions, or actions. That's when they want to stop. That's when it's no longer fun.
I've heard this expression many times before, but someone pointed out recently that when a baseball game begins, the umpire yells two words: PLAY BALL! And, I'll be honest...I've not thought too much about it. But, to overlook the first word - PLAY - is a dangerous thing. The expression isn't "TRY HARD BALL" or "BE DISCOURAGED BALL" or "WIN AT ALL COSTS BALL" - it's Play Ball!
Now, I am an extremely competitive person. I want to win...badly. But, if I have won the game and caused three or four of my players to never want to play baseball again, have I won? Of course not.
In Matthew 16:26 Jesus says this: What good will it be if a man gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?
Man, those words sting. But Jesus knows that often times we sacrifice the best things in the long run for the things that satisfy us for only an instant.
I've really had to work these past couple years at allowing my son to PLAY the game of baseball. I want him to be the best. I want him to get a base hit every time. I want him to catch every ball thrown or hit his way. And, rarely do I think about the enjoyment he gets out of just being on the field with his buddies. Playing.
As parents, we've gotta let 'em play. It's likely they won't get to play beyond the age of 18 or so. They've gotta cram a lot of play in just 10-12 years. And, it'll fly by.
But, that 10-12 years could become 1 or 2 if we don't let them fail. If we don't let them make mistakes, and rebound on their own.
If' we don't let 'em play.