I have debated this with loads of friends of mine, and even my own husband – its a topic that bugs me big time.
I used to be an instructor in the martial arts industry and after watching countless parents berate their children when they didn’t win or come up tops, I promised myself I would make sure my child knew that it wasn’t all about winning, life is about taking part, loving what you do and doing it your best potential. But is it? In a modern society is life really about taking part, because if that is the case why do we keep score?
My husband is a sports fanatic – he is borderline obsessive, in fact he’s tripped, skipped and hopped over the border to full blown obsessive. It is his belief that winning is important and a drive to win is essential for growing up – please don’t misunderstand me, he isn’t the asshole that will berate his child for not winning but he thinks that going out with the attitude that it is important to win is a good thing. I disagree. I feel that I should instil in the boys that it doesn’t matter if they win as long as they try their hardest and take part to the best of their abilities… so, am I setting them up for failure?
I recently came across an article about what lies we tell our kids by Dr Chuck Borsellino and he said that “Parents are missing the mark if they teach their kids that score doesn’t matter. It does.” He also states that we should encourage children to “keep one eye on their character, one eye on their competence, and one eye on the scoreboard.” I get that he is trying to encourage parents to find a balance, but I can’t help but feel that there is plenty of time for that as children grow up, why burden them with the attitude that they need to win now?
I am a very competitive person, I like to win, but who doesn’t? I constantly try to better myself and ensure that I succeed at what I do – and I absolutely hate failing. I was never pushed as child though or taught that winning is essential, just that I should try my best and accept that sometimes I’m not going to succeed and that is ok, I just have to keep trying. Is this drive to win or to succeed just something that we develop as we become more aware of the world around us? It goes without saying that in the every day life of an adult, coming up trumps is important, for example – you succeed at work, you might get that promotion that will give you more money, you will be able to save more and possibly buy a bigger house or do something as a family that costs extra cash.
In all other aspects of life I try to tell Reuben the truth, I’m just like every other parent the odd little fib will slip out (When was the last time you pulled out the old, ‘ Yes, we’re nearly there’ when you’re 40 minutes from home?!), but I am generally really careful not to lie… so am I a hypocrite in this aspect? I think so, but I also don’t think I mind.
What do you do with your kids when it comes to this parenting crossroad? Do you think that it is important to tell them that they should aim to win at everything they do, or do you remind them that it is important to try your best and learn to cope with failure ( as that really is an important part of life isn’t it?).