Lately, I’ve been doing more thinking than writing. I’ve watched my kids at work and at play and I have noticed that they tend to emulate the way my husband and I work and play. I’ve watched other kids at play and made mental notes of how their parents have interacted with them. I’ve checked out books from the library on how to get siblings to get along, how to get your kids to listen, raising motivated learners…and a plethora of other subjects. I’ve read my Bible more…oh, and I’ve been praying…probably more of that than anything else.
See, I want to be a better parent. I need to understand things. I have an appetite for knowledge in this area that can’t be satiated. I am just now after 10 years of motherhood realizing that to truly be a better parent, you can’t just WISH you were. You can’t just STOP doing something you’ve always done (like raising your voice when frustrated at your kids) if you don’t replace it with something BETTER to do. Your kids will not “automatically” get along with each other just because you say it’s the right thing to do. Your kids will not suddenly become little neat freaks who tidy up after themselves and wash their dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. It’s all about training, people.
Which brings me to my point. Last night I took Katie (age 10) to softball practice and was watching how the coach interacted with the kids. He’s fighting a losing battle, as this is the first year many of these girls have ever played…but he brings out the best in them anyway. They try harder for him, they long for his approval, they do anything he asks them to do. I had to ask myself “why?” So I watched. Every time a girl would miss the ball when at bat, or a grounder would roll past her glove, or someone was tagged out, he’d call out, “It’s okay…you’ll get it the next time!” Then he would gently walk her through how to properly hold the bat, or how she should crouch with her gloved hand between her ankles, or how she should actually touch the base as she’s rounding it. He didn’t raise his voice – he didn’t get upset – he didn’t raise his hands in disgust and say, “I give up!” He coached – he encouraged, he led by example, he breathed belief into them that they really were good enough.
It was at that moment I had an epiphany. Motherhood is the most important game I’ll ever play and I’m the coach. I am the biggest influence on my kid’s behavior – if I want my team to win, I must constantly encourage and inspire them to do more than they’ve ever done. Leadership is something I have been teaching people for years, but I’m just beginning to understand how it applies to me as a mother. I don’t need to pour myself into them…I just need to learn how to pull out of them what is already there.
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