Our oldest son is 14 years old and has been playing baseball since he was 5. He has good physical size and abilities, good coaching, and has been one of the best players in the league. He will be going to a private High School next year that is known for their baseball program and will have the opportunity to play at a high level, receive excellent coaching and preparation for college or the next level of baseball. However, he lacks the “fire in the belly” that will be required to compete and succeed at this level. Do we push him and simply tell him he has worked so hard and is going to play? Do we let him take a break and try another activity or let him just stay at home? This situation is all too common for many parents.
The first thing we must recognize is it is not about us. We must remove our self centered motives from our decisions. My goal is not to raise a great baseball player so that I can revel in his success, but to raise a great man that follows the truth of Jesus Christ and makes a real difference in the lives of others as he pursues his talents and experiences true joy from living the life that God created him to live.
Each individual child and each circumstance is unique and there is a no “one size fits all” option that is correct for the development of your child. Our responsibility as a parent is to build in the right stuff in our kids. We are to identify character deficiencies that we can seek opportunities to work on with our children. Academics, sports, scouts, and other of life’s activities and experiences provide a great platform for teaching and coaching these character traits into our kids. These teaching moments are not observed from a far and delivered with authoritative direction, but should be cultivated through quality time together. It is our privilege to develop character in our kids and that privilege must be earned by investing time in walking through life’s activities together. Earlier in our sons athletic career he decided to join the cross country team. Little did he know that he was not built to run and quickly decided he wanted to quit. This was a great opportunity to teach him that his best was good enough and he needed to finish what he started. I am proud to report that he did not win any races, but he did his best and was pleased to finish what he started.
We finished the baseball season and have discussed the bigger picture regarding the investment he has made in the sport and the opportunity that he has before him in High School. He may need a break to realize his freedom and regain a love for the game. He could still return another year, but will face competition to join the team. The character trait in this decision may not be directed at him, but watching how we, his parents, react to his decision, passions and desires. For our son, in this situation, this will be his decision and we will support him in whatever he chooses to pursue.
So as you face choices as a parent regarding your individual child and how to build in the right stuff consider the following.
- Lift up your children in prayer every day
- Remove self centered motives from your role in developing character
- Identify character traits that need to be developed and look for the life experiences to train and coach
- Spend quality time so that you have earned the privilege to build in the right stuff at the right moment.
If you are reading this blog, I can assume that you are a good parent and trying to do your best. The only thing that I would add is to not “over think” the situation. Not every situation needs to be elevated by the parent to develop a character trait as many times the best teachers are natural consequences to choice our kids make.