Dad, what’s an “all-star”?

Dad, what’s an “all-star”?

This was the question posed to me last night by my 8 year old son.  He overheard my wife and me talking about our 6 year old and the upcoming City Soccer Club U6 all-star game.  It wasn’t the question that tripped me up; it was the look in his eyes when he asked it.

My oldest son is an amazing boy; he has the vocabulary of a 15 year old, has been reading on his own for 3 years, he can throw a ball with the best of them, mathematics comes as natural to him as breathing and he has a gentle soul; one that naturally has him be kind, gentle and supportive to those around him, so when he sheepishly asked me about being an all-star, I knew I had done something wrong because from his perspective, all of his amazing abilities appeared to fade away.  His eyes welled up a bit and he said “you want me to be an all-star, right Dad?” which was code for; “I haven’t done a good enough job for you, right?”

Dad, what’s an “all-star”?

I have a good friend and life coach who recently shared her thoughts on raising children and she told me that she believes nothing to be more arrogant than the act of setting an expectation for a child.  When she shared her opinion I argued it, naturally, because I had been a believer of expectation setting and more importantly, expectation achievement.  Her belief system is so different from mine and as I have had time to digest it, it’s beginning to make more sense to me.  As a parent, we should be here for one primary reason; to love our children, unconditionally.  Too often we expect our kids to exceed what we might have accomplished in life or we expect them to follow in our path, which is inherently arrogant, isn’t it?  Instead of expectations couldn’t we simply offer love and guidance and accept that their path in life is just that; their path.  Our role becomes that of inserting a solid moral compass and enabling our children to become productive adults by showing the respect they deserve while experiencing life. Whether we believe it or not; our kids are going to follow their own path and as a parent, like me, we should work to recognize that, right? 

Dad, what’s an “all-star”?

The look of vulnerability and disappointment being shown was enough to break my heart.  As a parent, I believe these are opportunities that afford us time to support and show love, so I did.  Instead of an answer on what is an all-star, I shared my belief regarding effort and its role in life.  I shared my personal belief that not every boy or girl will be an “all-star” on the field and not all great teams are made up of “all-stars”, either.  We talked about the effort needed in school and at home and I shared that as long as he knew in his heart that he had given an effort that was as strong as he could muster then he’d have nothing to ever be disappointed about.  I finished my little speech and gave him a hug and kiss and he looked up at me and said, “Dad…I think I can work a little harder and do a little more to help my soccer team.”  What a comment!  After all of this talk about what makes an individual “all-star” my son equated the effort we talked about and is looking to apply it to helping others, not himself.

Dad, what’s an “all-star”?

You are kiddo…you are.

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4 thoughts on “Dad, what’s an “all-star”?

  1. Travis, as a mother of teenagers it’s really hard to step aside and let them go down their path especially when you know they are choosing a hard path. I don’t think we are arrogant, we just don’t want our kids to struggle. You have me thinking! I know I am probably making my son feel inferior which isn’t my intent. I just want him to be able to enjoy his life and to have a job which supports his love of life. I think there is still an added pressure on males.its not easy being a parent

  2. Very good article, Travis. Reminded me a little bit of a note I have on facebook about practicing non-attachment (not my article)…..

    Truly loving our children requires us to set them free and practice nonattachment. Trust and allow.

    Parenting asks us to rise to some of the most difficult challenges this world has to offer, and one of its greatest paradoxes arises around the issue of attachment. On the one hand, successful parenting requires that we love our children, and most of us love in a very attached way. On the other hand, it also requires that we let go of our children at the appropriate times, which means we must practice some level of nonattachment. Many parents find this difficult because we love our children fiercely, more than we will ever love anyone, and this can cause us to overstep our bounds with them as their independence grows. Yet truly loving them requires that we set them free.

    Attachment to outcome is perhaps the greatest obstacle on the parenting path, and the one that teaches us the most about the importance of practicing nonattachment. We commonly perceive our children to be extensions of ourselves, imagining that we know what’s best for them, but our children are people in their own right with their own paths to follow in this world. They may be called to move in directions we fear, don’t respect, or don’t understand, yet we must let them go. This letting go happens gradually throughout our lives with our children until we finally honor them as fully grown adults who no longer require our guidance. At this point, it is important that we treat them as peers who may or may not seek our input into their lives. This allows them, and us, to fully realize the greatest gift parents can offer their offspring —independence.

    Letting go in any area of life requires a deep trust in the universe, in the overall meaning and purpose of existence. Remembering that there is more to us and our children than meets the eye can help us practice nonattachment, even when we feel overwhelmed by concern and the desire to interfere. We are all souls making our way in the world and making our way, ultimately, back to the same source. This can be our mantra as we let our children go in peace and confidence.

  3. Travis, our lives are so similar right now, and the struggles of mid-parenthood are challenging! I am glad to see that you are writing about things that a lot of us are experiencing and trying to find some balance. It has made me reconsider the basis of my intentions behind setting goals for my kids both in academics and activities. I have often struggled to defend my belief that children simply need some time to “just be a kid”, with no schedule and allow their creativity to flow. Thanks for providing your insight!

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