by C.A. Phillips
And now a word to you parents. Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful. Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord himself approves, with suggestions and godly advice.
Ephesians 6:4 (TLB)
I was listening to Dimino and Cellini on 680 The Fan this week, when a statement by a caller gripped me. During the show, one of the topics being discussed was how to talk to and motivate your children when it comes to athletics. This is a meaningful subject to me, and I was listening intently. Several dads of former and current amateur athletes called in to offer suggestions and sage advice. But, one statement stopped me cold.
“You know when most kids’ careers end?” he asked. “On the ride home.”
I don’t coach my kids anymore – not in sports, anyway. But, I did coach them in baseball and basketball for many years, both at the rec and travel levels. I was incredibly competitive (still am), and hyper-critical of their effort and performance. I made the mistake of going on the offensive on the drive home from the field, the court, the tournament. Instead of allowing them the opportunity to reflect on how the game or weekend went, I initiated a conversation with them.
This worked against what I hoped to accomplish. Instead of it leading to a meaningful dialogue, it put them on the defensive. And, particularly with my younger son, these forced interactions resulted in anger and discouragement.
I was a good coach. I prepared my teams, I had a plan for every practice, and every game and tournament was methodically mapped-out. But, one area I failed in was not being enough of an encourager to my own boys. And, not only that, I likely curbed their personal growth in some areas by not allowing them to ponder things on their own.
Thankfully, I didn’t push them to the point where they threw their hands up in the air and say, “I quit!” My poor choices in this area didn’t lead to them choosing to end their respective careers prematurely. But, it could have!
If you really want to get the most of out of you children, encourage them. Allow them to chew on things for a while after a tough game. After a day or two, ask them if they want to go hit BP, or shoot hoops in the driveway. And, above all, love them. Once they know you love them unconditionally, they’ll be ready and willing to listen to your advice on how to improve on the field.
C.A. Phillips is a lifelong sports enthusiast and youth baseball coach, and currently serves as the Communications Pastor and Director of Men’s Groups at NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Ga. He lives in Kennesaw with his wife, Amy, and his two sons, Chaz and Chandler.
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