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“Dad, you were short on saying negative things”

Every once in awhile our kids say something that rocks our world. To be honest hurts a little. I am not talking about when they are mean or rude. I am talking about when they say something honest that turns a knife in our stomach.

The other day after Kaleb’s soccer practice, as I was parking the car in front of our house, he said, ‘Dad, you were short on saying negative things about soccer practice.’

What???? What is he talking about??? I thought I was always encouraging? I thought I was Mr. Positive. I thought I was ‘winning at home first.’

I said, ‘What buddy? What do you mean?’

He proceeded to tell me that when we drive home from soccer practice, I tell him the whole way home on how he could have done better. He should have passed earlier. He could have made the shot if he took it with his left foot, instead of maneuvering the ball to his right foot. He should not get upset when he doesn’t score.

I was crushed. Yes, that is true I provide ‘tips’, but my intent was not to hurt him, only help him. We talked more and clarified that I do say encouraging things, however, I am always pointing out ways to get better.

Why I must stop

Recently I was at a retreat with a man in his early 50s. As we went through a variety of exercises on past wounding, he realized that his entire life he has been pursuing achievements in childhood sports and his career in order to try and win his dad’s approval. The root of this lifelong wound was from childhood sports!

See, this individual was a great athlete and one of the best in his position in the state, however, his dad always told him things he could have done better. I am going to assume the intent of this man’s father was good, much like mine was. However, this grown man has been chasing achievements his whole life trying to win the approval of his father.

We can’t set our kids up for that.

Yes, there is a place for constructive criticism. Yes, there is a time to provide ‘tips’. I played soccer my whole life, so I know the game well and can provide tips. However, my ‘tips’ are louder in his impressionable ears than my encouragement.

Starting now I need to be careful how often I am providing ‘tips’ instead of encouragement.

What about you and those you influence?

Do you need to be more of an encourager? Do you need to be more strategic when you give your ‘tips’?

Our kids will eventually learn what is needed, whether it is on their own, or another way. However, they may never get the encouragement that only a parent can provide.


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