THE CAR RIDE HOME (that takes 5 minutes)
5) The car ride home is an experience that helps define a parent / child relationship. Here are six topics that have helped me improve myself, understand my son better and allow him to challenge himself to be the best athlete he can. This is your fifth ride sitting in the backseat of my car listening in on our relationship. And if you’re wondering… yes, he did agree to everything written.
How to ask those difficult questions.
For the first time in my life I recently had the thought my son might of just hit his peak. I dreaded the thought. My world of believing he is going to become a great baseball player was in turmoil.
It came about when I heard of other similar aged baseball players in the USA and Latin America clocking times in their sixty-yard dash that blew my son’s times off the track. Though he is one of the fastest players in this country, over in the centre of baseball universe he wasn’t turning any heads there with his time.
I considered asking him do you think you’ve hit your peak. But I couldn’t ask him that. Does that send a message I don’t believe in him. Surely I can’t ask him that. I know he was still recovering from a hamstring injury when he was recently time trialled and I know he was very disappointed with his time. Yet, I felt like I was betraying him by doubting him.
Though I was feeling confused I didn’t need to blurt out whatever I was feeling. I’ve done that too many times before. I thought about it and decided to rephrase and reframe any questions I wanted to ask.
“What do you think of that time that Dominican kid hit in his sixty?” I asked.
“Very impressive, no wonder the Dominican was offered 5.1mil’,” he said.
“But 6.3, how is that possible?”
“I know, it’s unbelievable, isn’t it.”
“I know your target was 6.4, but could you ever hit 6.3.”
“Dad, get me a sprint coach and I’ll get close to equalling that time.”
“Really, do you believe that you can compete with that time?”
“Yes I do. Speed is my number one tool and I see where I need to be.”
“So you have no doubts about yourself that you haven’t hit your peak.”
“No way! I want to train harder now and get my body in better condition.”
At the end of the conversation I was slightly embarrassed suggesting if he doubted himself. Fortunately, because the conversation was framed around the Dominican’s time, my son took it as an inspiration and something positive to strive for.
Often times, when we ask or tell our kids things it’s out of our frustration. We care; we care deeply; we care too much. We care to the point that clouds our view of what’s really going on. And as much as it is good to ask questions (and not blurt our presumptive statements), if we ask when we are not calm and have applied little thought to our words, it is very obvious the issue is really all about us and not about our child.
It’s ok, we’ve all done this. It doesn’t take much to turn this around. Suffer for a bit longer and ask yourself what do I want my child to take out of this conversation. If it is about you getting something off your chest you’ll only pass your suffering onto them. If you want to pass on calmness and encouragement to your child, make sure you’re first calm and your questions are framed in an encouraging way.
(You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss your experience or dilemma. I’m always open to learning something new and I’m always open to giving time and thought to help)