Parenting is a chock-full of life lessons. One of the biggest lessons any of us can learn through the parenting process is acceptance. Acceptance of what is, of the loss of what used to be and of letting go of what will never be.
My oldest son runs fast. From a young age, his speed stood out on the soccer field. Even parents from the opposition would comment on it so it wasn’t all in my completely biased opinion. As the seasons progressed and he had some athletic success, I presumed it would and should continue. I mean, after all, if he had this gift of speed shouldn’t he use it?
Starting around his fourth season or so, he started to lose his drive. He went from the ‘coast-to-coast’ kid to one who would only sprint if it was absolutely necessary and then, only if he felt like it.
It was maddening.
His Dad and I would become so frustrated with his lack of effort that the car rides home from games were filled with contentious conversations. I kept wondering why I was putting all this time and effort to get him to practices and the fields if he didn’t really want to be there. I had a difficult time accepting that soccer may not be his thing. It didn’t matter if he had some talent or potential, all that mattered is if he cared to be there. Apparently he did not. I found this great quote from Parenting the QBQ Way by John and Karen Miller that sums it up perfectly:
“Many parents believe it’s their job to make a child want to succeed at a task or achieve a goal. In the long run, though, we are more successful at “letting them be them” when we come to embrace this healthy truth: A parent should not be more concerned about the child’s success or failure than the child is.“
As a family, we concluded that having him sit out some seasons of soccer was in everyone’s best interest. I have done my best to let go of what I think he should be doing and let him determine his own fate. He seemed relieved and I was relieved that our power struggle was off the table. It’s been almost a year since he put on his soccer cleats. Maybe he’s hung them up for good.
Either way, I have to accept it.
Written by Diana DeVaul MSW and Parent
Miller, John, G. with Miller, Karen, G. Parenting the QBQ Way . New York: Penguin Group, 2012