Last week, we started a discussion about making it through the holidays -- simplifying, being present, showing interest, flexibility and forgiveness. This week we finish with some concluding thoughts.
Some of the situations we've dealt with during the year have seemed so critical at the moment, haven't they? Making it through a traffic light, being first in line, seeing our team win. Yet sometimes our insistence on a certain outcome prevents us from truly enjoying the activity in which we're engaged. On reflection, we find our perspective was skewed or our sense of crisis was misdirected. Some events, although not critically important, can produce negative outcomes by the importance we place on them.
Fathers don't operate separately from their children. We serve as role models in everything we do. Eyes are watching and ears are listening. It's important to remember that we play a significant teaching role to our children in how we handle everyday situations. They learn from watching us.
So in the coming new year, the next time someone is driving too slowly, the sport shop is out of your size or your team loses, grab some perspective. Think of the other people involved, and remember the reaction you have can cap the day and send a child a message about the way to act.
Sometimes our kids need a push. But if pushing includes any of these statements, you may want to take another approach:
• How can you expect to win first place with that kind of attitude?
• Is that really the best you can do?
• If you can get a 3.8 grade point average, then you can get a 4.0.
• If I can do it, then certainly you can do it.
• Don't mess up -- everyone's watching you.
• Bring home that trophy
• I expected a lot more from you.
Does your approach with your children indicate you have their best interests at heart? Or are you trying to fill a void in your own life? Are you mindful of the fact that your teenager is already putting immense pressure on him/herself in order to find acceptance and belong?
Sure, we all need a nudge to keep us on our toes or move us forward occasionally. Without it, we become complacent, attuned to the lowest common denominator, reaching just within our grasp. A little push can propel us to the next level. But a little goes a long way. This is where finesse comes in.
Let's teach our kids to stretch, to reach beyond their grasp. That's the way they grow. Let's also recognize their limitations. As adults and as mentors, we need to handle with care and know when pressure may become destructive. Unreasonable expectations -- pressure without finesse -- are just a lot of hot air.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of the book "Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers." Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at Dads2Dadsllc.com. Contact them at tomandbill@Dads2Dadsllc.com.