“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” — Arthur Ashe
Parenting is not a game. However, it is best undertaken, if approached like a game.
Take golf for instance, or any sport for that matter, there is always an objective. There are rules. There is always an opponent or opponents. The object of golf, for example, is to get a small white ball in a plastic cup in as few strokes as possible. The opponents are not other golfers, as you might expect, but the course and the golfer herself. There are both external and internal hazards. The golfer most continually way the rewards of any given shot or course of action against the risks. She must muster her inner strength, her confidence, her poise, her grace, in order to keep her emotions, her mind and herself in check in order to play the best round of golf she can.
In a phrase she must be emotionally strong.
Her emotional strength, or confidence, stems from a few key components of her game.
- First, she has developed and honed skills through hours of practice.
- Second, for every course she plays she develops a game plan. She has a strategy for how to play a particular course, for how to play every hole and ultimately how to play every shot.
- Third, she has a routine that she goes through before every shot to keep her mind focused on that one shot. Her routine keeps her present and on the task.
If one of these components is not properly attended to or executed, then the golfer risks performing below her potential.
Parenting works much the same way.
Parents should have an objective, or result in mind, when raising their children. For me it is raising a happy and, what Wayne Dyer calls, a no-limits person. There are also rules to parenting. There are legal obligations as well as guidelines, you might say, for parent-child relationships. There are certainly challenges and hazards, both internal and external, that must be contended with, avoided and overcome. There are trade offs, risks and rewards, for every course action pursued. The parent must muster her inner strength, her confidence, her poise, her grace, in order to keep her emotions, her mind and herself in check in order to be the best parent she can be.
In short, parents need emotional strength to perform at their best.
Just like a golfer or head coach or a quarterback, parents can develop their confidence and improve their performance by employing many of the same techniques.
- First, practice. That’s right, practice being a parent. Role play with your spouse or friends with children the same age. Get coaching or attend seminars or courses on parenting.
- Second, have a game plan or overall parenting strategy. What is it that you want for your children? Keep in mind that children respond differently as they age, so be prepared. Think of a golfer. A golfer carries 14 clubs in her bag – drivers, fairway woods, irons, wedges, putters. They use the different clubs for different shots or challenges. You must have a bag of parenting “clubs” with which to approach the different challenges you face with your teen.
- Third, have a pre-shot routine. Don’t leave it to chance that you will be able to respond to your children as you’d like too. Create a routine for yourself that you can use when confronted with, for a lack of a better phrase, an out-of-control teen. Golfers use a pre-shot routine before every shot. This may be excessive for every interaction with your teen, but you do need one and you need to practice it. It will save you big time, especially when under pressure.
Emotional Strength is not something that some people have and others don’t. It is a skill you can develop, hone and bring to bear when you need it most. Sure, we all handle emotionally tough situations differently. That doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to better control how you respond under pressure or not.
Parenting, like golf, or any sport, is, first and foremost, a “game” of confidence. Following the steps above will help you become more emotionally strong. They will help you raise your children with confidence, despite the hazards and challenges you’ll face along the way.
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