I am at the pool and I see it all around me people bullying their own kids, labeling their own kids, threatening their own kids — and I wish it would stop.
One boy borrows my son’s water toy and a mom tells him he can’t use it because she “knows him and can’t be trusted with toys like this.” Message: You are incapable of following directions. I don’t trust you.
Another three-year-old boy is playing ball in the kiddie pool with my son. When we go to leave, we ask for our ball back and before the little boy has a moment to react to our request, his father chimes in with a threatening voice: “Give it back before I count to three…1, 2.” The message: You only do the right thing when you are being threatened.
At the other side of the pool, a mother’s conversation is interrupted when her 6-year-old approaches to say that her friend “isn’t letting me have a turn.” The mother responds in a frustrated tone, “It sounds like it is time for us to leave.” The message: Don’t bring your problems to me.
My kids are at the pool too and like every other family, it isn’t smooth sailing. During this trip to the pool, my middle daughter is being left out of her big sister’s game of Marco Polo, my youngest is learning to swim and my oldest steps into a nest of red ants on her way to the bathroom, suffering stings all over her ankle. But this is parenting. It is only a perfectly paved road for the parents of our dreams the ones that don’t exist.
Pick any family in the world and they can share their daily bumps. Picture being on vacation in a jeep on a dirt road – those bumps are fun. When you are lost and anxious to arrive at your destination, those same bumps would be painful. The only thing we have control over is how we view and manage the inevitable bumps. This is what distinguishes a high performance parent from a low performance parent. Which path will you choose?