He didn’t make the Team. Is it a big deal or not? It’s really a matter of perspective. When you’re a teenager working hard to achieve a goal, pouring your mind, body, heart and soul into something, failure is earth shattering. However, as adults, we know life goes on and other opportunities, perhaps better and more exciting will develop.
What am I talking about? Tim tried out for the school basketball team and didn’t make it. I was with him when he looked at the roster taped to the front window at school. As he turned and we headed back to the car, his face was filled with disappointment, discouragement and frustration. Honestly, so was mine.
Dads, many of you have been there, I hope. You’ve watched your child, son or daughter, pour out honest effort to reach a goal or dream and seen them fall short. These are great parenting moments. And, I have to tell you that I’m not sure how to handle them. I’m learning as I go, talking with other dads, reflecting on my own failures and prayerfully seeking how best to encourage and teach my son.
Here are some things I think I’ve learned:
- Say something, but not too much. We rode in silence most of the way home, he needed some space to process. Lectures are almost never effective parenting tools. (Tim asked that I place special emphasis on this one!)
- I reminded him that I loved him and was proud of him. There are kids who give half-hearted effort, but Tim poured himself into this. I am proud of him.
- Let them grieve but don’t let them stay there. I encouraged Tim to share his emotion with me but I did tell him he had to move on.
- Encourage him to consider next steps. Tim and I have talked about what’s next. Other sports, other options.
- Seek Answers. I suggested that Tim go have a face to face talk with the coach. Not to confront or complain but to learn how to improve. (The coach met him as he came into school the next morning and encouraged him and explained the situation. Very helpful!)
- Re-direct energy. I talked with Tim about other opportunities. He’s had many other successes and is involved in many other activities. He needs to keep pursuing other doors that are open to him.
- Write a note. Dad, a personal note can make a huge difference. The next morning, I left a note for Tim at the breakfast table. A brief encouragement with a couple of scriptures. Never underestimate the power of a personal note. I still have some my dad wrote to me.
- Keep the big picture in mind. Guys, my objective in parenting is not to raise a basketball player or a happy teenager. My ultimate goal is to produce a Noble Warrior who is an effective and potent Kingdom asset. Disappointment, discouragement and redirection are part of the training program.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
Men, perhaps you’ve walked your son or daughter through similar challenges. Do you have comments or insights? Click here to send me an email.
Note: In case you’re wondering, I did share this with Tim and get his approval prior to publishing this.
Noble Notes posted on November 24, 2009