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The Car Ride Home Pt-4

THE CAR RIDE HOME (that takes 5 minutes)

4) 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 fourth 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.

 At the very least expect THIS from your child.

Theoretically, as parents, we have an unfair advantage of instilling our will and discipline on our kids. Most of us would have no chance if we had to sell our will and discipline to them like one business person to another. That salesperson really has to work to sell their idea or product.

A parent can use their authoritive position to demand the sale… and most of the time the sale to our child is reluctantly bought—I mean enforced.

I’ve tried to enforce my will and my view on my son many times about his baseball. The more I tried to assist—I mean enforce—the more he would resist. By the age of nine he knew, and I knew, and I knew he knew, that he knew much more than I did. He said to me at the age of twelve, “Dad, your job is now to help me with my mind.”

One thing we both agreed upon was one’s attitude towards playing the game. It is easy to tell out there on the baseball diamond—in fact any sporting field—what a kid’s attitude is like by what she or he did: by the speed of running on and off the field; were they watching the coach when they talked to them; did they even listen to the coach… There were always obvious actions one could observe if a young athlete had a good attitude.

In baseball, a simple measure of attitude is how fast a batter runs to first base. A batter hits a ball and by all measures they are guaranteed to get onto first base: do they bust out of the blocks hoping that luck maybe on their side and they are looking at gaining that extra base. Or do they run at 75% with no consideration of getting onto second base.

A batter hits the ball into what looks like an automatic ground out or pop up fly. The batter doesn’t run at full speed to first base; the batter considers themselves a given out. The observers interested in that player are judging the player’s attitude by his or her speed and don’t give up mindset.

Coaches generally want their players to hustle on and off the field; look interested, look alive, look like they want to be there, look like you’re a ball player that cares… Again, this is where a young player’s attitude is judged.

Coaches love a great attitude even over pretentious skill.

Yes, skill can be obvious, but skill with a poor attitude is obnoxious.

A lack of skill, or some bad luck out on the field can’t be helped, but a good attitude will always give hope for a better outcome.

One thing that is never accepted between my son and I is a poor attitude. Whatever team he is on; whoever his teammates are; whatever level he is playing at; no matter if his personal form is down, a good attitude is expected. And this is the one thing that he excels at. So whether he makes it to the top or not a good attitude will help him be successful whatever he does in life.

If you’re ever going to expect anything from your child, if you’re ever going to have those challenging conversations, make it about attitude. Attitude can be measured and seen. You can’t enforce it but you can expect it.

Mark Maguire

(You can contact me at 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)