A while back I spoke with a high performance coach who also happened to be a scout for a Major League club. He had observed for many years the anxiety parents struggle with as they watch their kids develop in the game.
He asked me to write something on patience. He just wished parents could be more patient with their young athletes and the process. He wished parents could understand that some kids are not skilled or mentally tough enough for professional baseball. They maybe more suited to different levels of college or even being content with being a valuable player in a state team or a club team.
It’s very hard to see clearly where our child sits in the big scheme of things—next to impossible, actually. I find it hard. I like to think I have an understanding of my son, but I know I’m blinded. If I applied the odds to my son making it to the top I should be locked up; fancy allowing him to throw away many years of his life striving for a goal that only 6% of those signed professionally will ever run onto a major league field. That’s why young athletes are encouraged to have backup plans.
I justify my son’s position: he’s an ‘all or nothing’ guy. I know that’s my characteristic so I don’t know how much it’s me being ‘all or nothing’ for him or him believing it himself. I tell others he’s shooting for the stars and when he falls—as everyone falls at some point—that though the fall will be hard and discouraging, even depressing, family will be there to support him.
This is his reckless adventure.
If my wife and I aren’t patient we will be of no help keeping him on the rails. And if we are not patient he will not listen to our words when we do have something to say.
There must be calmness and a resolute smile about our long suffering. Yes, long suffering, an old English interpretation of what patience means. A fellow sports parent once said to me, we need to happily suffer together on the sideline.
Be realistic. This sounds hypocritical coming from a parent who encourages his kid on a reckless adventure, but I’ve sought feedback of where my kid sits in comparison to others, skill wise, mentally, and with his work ethic. I’ve been offended by some truths and wanted to be defensive. Fortunately, I chose to say nothing, feel the internal suffering, and take it as positive input for my son to learn from.
Bottom line, if I don’t show patience, if I don’t seek realistic input from outsiders who can observe my son better than me, I am not helping him and am only holding him back. Hard truth to swallow.
Allow your child to become a better you.
Allow your child to find their way.
With patience they will listen to you. With impatience they will ignore you.
This is part of a mini series called ‘Dad – it doesn’t help!’ written by Australian author Mark Maguire, whose son Soloman Maguire has recently signed for the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball franchise. To read all of the blogs in the series become a member today.