How I Made My Child Feel Like a FailureMichael Sheehan
Have you ever done something really stupid or without thought that directly affected one of your kids? It could have been something very minor, or something that potentially impacts them for the rest of their lives.
We constantly push our kids to “be performers,” excel at activities or in school and be the best at what they do, whether we consciously do it or not. Obviously, we have lofty goals for them and to make them better than what we will ever be. But when that desire to achieve clouds your better judgment, it can hurt your kids in the long run. It is your job as a parent to protect and nurture your kids, not cause complexes that lead to years of therapy.
But sometimes things go wrong. And this just happened to me and my daughter.
Ok, before you all start freaking out or dying of curiosity about what happened and how I horribly scarred my daughter for life, how she will never be the same and how as a father, I’m checking myself into a parenting, self-help institution, I will tell you now that it really wasn’t that big of a deal. I’m just using this as an example of the larger theme and to let you all know, sometimes, this stuff just happens, despited our best efforts.
Here is the scenario, and if you want to see the evidence, you can just watch the video below. Basically, I’m a bit of a slacker dad. I’m really behind at teaching my kids how to ride a bike. My older kids learned but learned late. But my youngest was next in line. During the summer, I had spent an hour or so trying to get her off the training wheels and wobbling around a parking lot. But after that one day, that was pretty much it. The training stopped.
So, I was lucky when I was asked to review a nifty gadget called a Gyrowheel on my site. It’s a pretty cool bit of technology that uses battery-powered gyroscopes within the front wheel to cause it to be much more balanced and stable. And it eliminates the need to use training wheels.
Training wheels are evil actually. And if you are a dad and are reading this, I’m sure that you have or will deal with them at some point in your kid’s lives. I won’t go on any more about the Gyrowheel (just read my review here) but instead cut to the point of this story.
In the setup of my daughter’s bike, I failed.
I put this snazzy techno-wheel on in reverse. So, essentially, instead of making it easier to ride the bike, it made it much harder. So, I got my kid on it and told her to ride. She wobbled around, swerved off the road and simply couldn’t control her bike. I just told her to ride and video taped the process. She wobbled, I yelled “Go!”, she got weepy, I shouted “Keep pedaling”. Nice dad, right?
We tried over and over and I could see her trying to make me happy by pedaling her little heart out and struggling to keep it upright. As she told me she didn’t want to try any more, I FINALLY accepted that something might actually be wrong. So I tried the bike myself (again, see the video below).
When I pedaled the tiny bike, I definitely could tell that there was something very wrong. Then I realized, I had put the wheel on backwards. Once it was flipped around, everything was magical. My daughter was up on the bike and pedaling like mad, balanced, confident and happier. And I filmed her and her riding progress, feeling incredibly sheepish and like I was an awful parent for not only pushing my kid to do something but also being in denial that something might be wrong.
Luckily, we transformed a moment of mutual failure to one of mutual success. She was riding, and I no longer felt like a horrible parent. But next time, I probably won’t push as hard and I definitely won’t rush to assume that she was doing something wrong or that I was always right.
Have you ever set your kid up for failure, pushed when you shouldn’t have, or assumed that you were right? I’d love to know your story! Leave a comment.