Like all of us, I am many things. I am a husband, father, son, brother, employee, boss and coach. My varsity soccer season starts later this month and as I was planning for another season I started thinking about some of my teams over the years. I love coaching and some of my favorite memories have been of coaching teams our son has played on. I haven’t always coached my son, but have always loved it when given the opportunity. I have coached for many years, everything from 5 year olds to high school, and I always seem to learn more than I teach. It’s one of the things I like about coaching. I still get to be a student while being a teacher.
Some years ago when our son Tyler was six I coached his team. I learned that year that small kids were capable of a lot more than I thought. We used some modified drills for them and worked on playing in a formation. I was told by many adults that the kids were too young and I should resign myself to playing “swarm” ball. But as we started playing games the kids started applying what we worked on and we ended the season undefeated.
That season I learned that kids are capable of more than most of us think they are. They can learn concepts and perform physical tasks, but the mistake I sometimes make is to assume that physical and mental ability equate to emotional maturity.
I often wonder if we ask too much of our kids on an emotional and relational level because we forget that their chronological and emotional ages are not aligned. I know I do.
Our son is helpful beyond his years and has a kind spirit not often found in kids his age. This “tricks” me into thinking he should deal with life at his functional age rather than his actual age. The reality is that he deals with life at his emotional age and that’s where I need to meet him. I should have realistic expectations based on who he is and not on what his birth certificate says. I need to walk next to him where he is rather than wait for him where I think he should be. One of the greatest relational tools is accurate expectations. My job as a parent is to help him to grow not to expect him to do it alone.
I need to remind myself every day that parenting should be about building bridges not building walls. It need to be about growing and loving our kids because most of our kids suffer from nurture deficit disorder. We have to love them back to the middle.
Our kids are capable of many things but let’s not lose sight of the fact that they need many things too. Meet them where they are because that’s what they need.