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Am I Old-Fashioned?

By: Michael A. Kubik

I find that I have a recurring conversation with some other parents about what we are "doing" to our kids. The conversation goes something like this: "When I was a kid, you had to be the one of the top performers or you didn't make the team. And, even if you made the team, if you were not the number one person at your position you wouldn't play." From there, we talk about how we have made everything a "participation" sport for our own kids. One where they all get to "make the team"; they all get equal playing time; they all get a snack and drink after every game; and they all get a trophy at the end of the season (even if they lost every game).

Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, and I love coaching. I have three kids, and they love sports. I have been parent-coaching sports for at least eight years, and still actively participate in sports leagues of my own (so I don't just say "here's what you do, I can show that I do it too). Now, here's the big "BUT" - I think we are stealing something from our kids.

I understand, and agree with some of the "new" coaching methods. Things like "sandwiching" - where you are supposed to tell a young athlete what they did right, and then tell them what they need to work on, and then tell them something else that they did right - have their place in a kinder and gentler sports world. I also understand wanting to let our kids participate in more sports at a younger age. That allows them to begin to build an internal gauge about what they like or don't like. Again the "BUT" - at what age do we stop telling our kids that they are great at everything that they do, so that they are forced to discover what they are truly good at?

Maybe trying out for the "Majors" in little league at the age of ten really did scar some people in my age group for life. Maybe not making that team really did hurt them to their core. I did not walk in their shoes, so I don't know. I also made that team, and then sat on the bench ever game except the four or five that I pitched, and worked hard every day because I wanted to play every day - next year. "BUT" - I believe that not making that team was actually beneficial to the people that didn't.

Those kids that didn't make the little league team got to discover other sports and other activities. They got to discover what they were truly great at. Some of them helped form a soccer club, got engaged in Boy/Girl Scouts or discovered little known games on the computer. "BUT" - it is those same people who are taking away the opportunity for discovery from their own kids because they are focusing on the negative side of their own personal experience.

I know, lots of you disagree with me, and have every right to disagree. So, let me give one more reason for my thinking. I believe that the best lessons I ever learned were the ones (metaphorically speaking) where I ended up spitting little pieces of teeth out of my mouth. They were not the times that I did something the first time and was great at it; they were the times when I failed. The best lessons in life come from failures. The best inventions come from learning from failures and trying again and again and again. We learn how to become accountable to ourselves and those around us by learning from our own trials and tribulations.

We all see our children, from their first steps, through learning to say "no", to pushing their parents for every little piece of "turf", learning from their mistakes. I'm sure every parent has told ever child, at least once, "I want you to have the advantage of my mistakes so that you don't have to go through the pain". I know that I have repeated that line at least a hundred times, to each of my children, and yet, they still want to learn by doing it on their own.

I, for one, believe that the only way we really learn is through hard work and fighting through our mistakes, failures and missed opportunities. I worry about my kids and their generation. I worry that we micromanage their every move (anyone who has access to their kids grades on-line understands what I am talking about) and are, in the process, hurting their ability to find, through failure, what they really love.

I invite you to discuss this topic with me, and each other, on the ourUSAschools Forum ourUSAschoolsForum.com/. Maybe I'm missing something. Maybe I'm too old fashioned.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Michael

About Michael Kubik:
Michael has been married for sixteen years and has three children (one in High School and two in Middle School). He has a Masters Degree in Planning, and works as a management consultant KnowltonFirm.com when he is not coaching youth wrestling, mentoring, or playing baseball or golf. Michael loves to travel to National and State Parks, and has driven to parks in each of the "lower forty-eight States" and the lower Provinces of Canada.


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