I hope I will be part of a ripple effect of better parenting. I say this in faith, as I am assuming others were as inspired as I was by the article about the 7 yr-old boy who wrote an encouraging letter to Kyle Williams. (I sent the story to everyone I knew). Web Link
Then came the next question for me personally: How could I, as a parent, be more like that father? Surviving as a "Silicon Valley mom" sometimes means there is an inner tiger that lurks in the fear of failure of all kinds, ready to roar and pounce at anything to ensure success in her children. Being human, and used to the chaos of a family of 5, I had somewhat given up the hope of positive parenting in a practical sense…that is until I was once again inspired by another human, another parent.
I thank the father of the 7 yr-old boy who through a single question ("If you feel this way, how sad do you think Kyle Williams is?" ) was able to elicit human compassion and perspective in his 7yr-old that resulted in the letter. It gave me hope in parenting again, and in little moments of perspective, hope and change in people. And for a moment, just for a moment it helped turn my own parenting around this weekend.
This past weekend, my youngest 9yr old son had a basketball game. As a kid of small stature, he was more at home in his main sport soccer, and was pretty shy with his basketball teammates and coach. However, this game was a close one, an exciting one, and my son, along with the team, fought hard. In the end, they lost by a few points. The kids were disappointed, and we parents awkwardly gave the usual "good game, great try" phrases, and many explanations floated around about the refereeing, etc.
We got in the car and I could see my son was more upset than usual. I assumed I knew why, and started my usual "good game," talk… but he got more upset. When I dug deeper, he became teary eyed, and said he was upset because he wanted to play the last quarter, but the coach told him that he couldn't. My boy took this to mean he wasn't good enough. I was at a loss for words. I mumbled something about equal playing time, and grasped and tried to pull every parenting inspiration I could muster… then it came: He needed comfort and compassion, and maybe validation. But how do you validate disappointment? That's when I remembered the Kyle Williams story…Turn it around. Give perspective.
I took a brighter tone, "So you asked the coach to be in the last quarter?"
"You mean you went up to the coach first?"
"Wow, that took a lot of courage to let him know what you wanted and how you felt!" I could see my son's head tilt a little, and felt encouraged to add, "That took the lifeskill of initiative that will take you far …farther in life than one basketball win can ever take you".
Then I heard him chuckle, "yeah".
I took his hand and told him how proud I was of him for coming out of his shell, and how proud he should be of himself.
I know this was only a moment in time, because as a human, I revert to my old ways way too often. But this moment was worth a thousand others, and I have inspiration to thank. Inspiration from the 7yr-old's father and from other parents who through their every day choices inspire countless others to have hope in efforts as parents. I aspire to do the same.
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