+[thoughts tonight on parenting]+

The job of parenting is coaching in every sense of the word.  Really, thats all it is; its preparing, training and inspiring a child to their fullest potential.  A good coach, teacher, parent will love as well, but it is the very act of doing the training job that nurtures the growth of that love; its the investment.   Think about it.  

Savannah plays in a traveling soccer league.  Its a group of mostly secular girls with worldly priorities.  Same is true for many of the families.  Many have asked why we have allowed her to play on such a team and have even questioned our parenting... how these surroundings will affect her.  My answer is that she has been trained and the consummation of that training is to go out and live. 

Today I watched as her team fell to another.  Quarter after quarter they were pounded by the opposing crew.  They were not as prepared as the other team.  They did not give it their all, but...they were not as prepared.   The subtle nuances that divide the great teams from the good ones were highlighted today.  But whose job is it to illumine those nuances, those highlights?

Many things struck me as I sat on the sidelines silently observing.  One was how the crowd (parents) became filled with demands.  As the coach began hysterically screaming from the sidelines in light of the clear loss in sight, so too the parents followed suit. By halftime parents also began full scale complaining about their teens: their grades, their inadequacies, their friends, their phone etiquette, you name it.  It became something very parallel to watching a gladiator game - as soon as the winner became evident, the crowd turned.    So much under the veneer of support.

I confess that the minute I hear a coach, teacher or a parent screaming at their kids, I immediately recognize that they are not doing their job.  Their veneer of support cracks to reveal the true substance beneath:  they are tied to the childs performance.  They are coaching, teaching, parenting with the wrong motives.   They are there for their own glory, not the childs. 

Coaching, teaching and parenting are not jobs of control.  They are not jobs of projecting an agenda.  A good coach, teacher or parent trains in a manner in which the performance of the child is not a reflection of who they are as the instructor.    Let me say that again, a good coach, teacher or parent trains in a manner in which the performance of the child is not a reflection of who they are as the instructor.

A good parent, teacher or coach realizes that the artistry of the job is drawing out the best in the child and painting ever before them how those strengths can serve others.  In a coaching situation that is training a player to know what they do best and how to contribute it to their team in the fullest.  In a teaching situation that is training a student to know how they learn best and encouraging them to approach every area of their life with that vivid learning style.  In a parenting situation, that is instructing a child in the way he should go (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually) then edifying him into who he was created to be.   My job requires all of these areas of artistry so, in these illuminating moments, I must pay close attention.

The parents surrounding me soon began their lists of what they were going to take away:  phones, TV, iPods, laptops, facebook, freetime with friends, etc.  "All they were going to have was soccer, and they were lucky to have that!"  The conversations were no longer about what was happening on the soccer field, they were now about the loss of leadership they had in their homes and about them taking it back by force, but none could identify that.  At the same time the coach was threatening laps and miles and pushups and the like.  Remember, this was not about soccer anymore, but rather the deficiencies in general that they saw in their girls.  They were being drawn into a crowd mentality.  A mother next to me confided in her husband that "she was going to think of a something good (read: bad) to do to her daughter, something that would leave a 'lasting' impression."  It took everything resembling Grace in me to not turn to her and say 'how about trying spending some time with her, that might leave a lasting impression! Clearly, with all you have said about her,  she is needing something - how about taking the time to figure out what it is and actually being the woman you are expecting her to be?'  Huh?  Huh?  Im pounding my keyboard right now.

Breathe oh passionate one, breathe.

I ask myself who has ever been motivated by being yelled at?  Who has ever risen to their potential by being beaten down verbally?  Conversely, how many have risen from ashes when someone has chosen to walk alongside them in their moments of defeat?  How many have responded beautifully, emphasis on fully, when things were given instead of taken in times of trial?  It is nothing more than an attempt of impotent control to yell, beat or repeatedly take from anyone.

Doug and I spoke with Savannah after her game.  Actually after her coach took them all aside and berated them for another 15 minutes after the game then told them they were going to "pay up" tomorrow at practice.  We sketched out for her much of what she already knew, but some of which she had not connected:  the coach is coaching for his glory, not theirs.  We explained to her that the correct approach for him to take would have been to look at the game as if everyone had done their very best.  And thinking with that mindset, what could he still work on to improve their skill set?  We asked her to think with that mindset and to tell us what she thought those improvements might be.  She articulated them well.   We then told her to go back tomorrow with those encouragements in mind and speak them to her teammates, building upon who they already are. 

Part of allowing her to play in this league is knowing that we are not going to agree with everything that transpires.  We will not agree with all the coaching, the kids attitudes nor the parents behaviors.  But that is true in any and every situation and will be the rest of her life.  It is our job to paint ever and always before her, inspiring her to seek who she was Designed to be.  And part of that is letting her see who she does not want to be. 

The job of parenting is coaching in every sense of the word. Really, thats all it is; its preparing, training and inspiring a child to their fullest potential. A good coach, teacher, parent will love as well, but it is the very act of doing the job that nurtures the growth of that love.   

Today I saw a lot of the opposite of what coaching, teaching and parenting should be:  a neglect of encouraging potential, a deconditioning (which ultimately causes extinction) toward growth and an unexciting demeanor toward the future. 

Her jersey number is our anniversary date.  And, a couple of years later,  the date she was born.  This journey with her is an awe-inspiring privilege.   May I daily remember it as such.