Central to my “Winning Parent” teachings is the idea that we are all different and yet so similar too. We all have totally unique complex situations and yet we share so many common life experiences. Although influenced by personal upbringings, different cultures, individual DNA patterns and highly particular personality characteristics we are still all human beings. Consequently, despite appearances we share similar basic human needs and wants. After the necessities of food, shelter and finance are met (maybe add WIFI too!) we tend to focus on our wants. How we go about attaining all of our wants is personal and this is why on the surface we can all appear so different. However, underneath the surface we all want fundamental things.
- We want to be significant in some way
- We want a form of joy and satisfaction in our lives
- We want to be connected and accepted by our peers
- We want some form of peace whilst also some form of power too
- We want our own versions of success and the rewards that go with it
- Most of us want love, especially from our family
- We want Security whilst having adventure too
- We want to attain our dreams and have our pleasures and desires
- We want to live, be relevant and get it right
- We want to help and be noticed
- We want to be SIGNIFICANT to ourselves and others
Sports competition has become a way to tick many of the ‘want’ boxes above. I ask you to reflect on your own reasons for being emotionally involved in competitive sport. What is it about ‘Competing’ that seems to put so much on the line? When you watch your children compete what are you really hoping for? So what if they win or lose, what does it actually mean?
I’ve been thinking hard about this and I truly believe that so much pressure and stress is built up at sports competitions because the result directly affects the chance to get these ‘core wants’ we all have. A win instantly (yet temporarily) gives us it all but a loss deprives us (temporarily). Worse still, a loss pokes fear that such wants may never come true as we watch our competitor have their moment of fulfilment. A competitive loss can leave people feeling ‘hollow’ at the very time your opponent is filling up! Therefore, for many people even the threat of a loss creates tremendous nervousness and physical stress. This happens even for sports fans, no wonder it can affect parents or in my case husbands!
I am intrigued why some people handle it all better. What is the secret to competing hard, going after the win with all you have yet not fearing the outcome. Certain players and parents cope so much better than others at competitions, how do they do it? They want the victory as much as anyone yet avoid being desperate, over critical, overprotective and panicked. I conclude that some people tolerate it better because they have huge security in themselves. Their wants remain just that ‘wants’. They rarely cross over and become needs. It seems such people already have levels of inner peace, significance, love, connectedness and joy in their lives. They have matured enough to understand many of the things a sports win can offer already exist within and although winning is preferred to losing it is by no means the ultimate provider of self esteem. They fulfil their wants and desires elsewhere in life and they have learned how to feel self secure even if victories depart for a while.
Maturity and Security reduce fears
One way that people do separate themselves more than the TYPE of person they are is the DEPTH or STAGE they evolve to. Commonly known as ‘maturing’ or even simpler ‘growing up’.
Those people who use experience the best and GROW quickly and adapt their outlook and behaviours are the ones that do well. Those that don’t evolve or ‘grow from experience‘ are the ones that get stuck and it is these people who tend to struggle in this fast changing world.
When you think you’ve got a handle on something in your life, along comes another dilemma, another problem or ‘gift’ depending on how you perceive life! It will be your DEPTH of character and STAGE of Security that influence what kind of outcome you will have.
Even if we take a small (but important) slice of your life, your parenting journey, you will know the chaos:
Trying to work out the best strategy to take?
How to handle your emotions?
Where to invest time and energy?
How far into the future to look?
What philosophy to help guide you?
How hard should I push?
Who to listen to and trust?
These questions and many more are all dilemmas that can overwhelm us.
It is very easy to criticise others for how they “parent” yet if the truth be told not one of us can claim to be completely flawless in our choices. When you love and care for somebody, particularly young children it is hard to let go and trust in the nature of things, it feels much better to try and CONTROL everything in order to avoid failure and create success. The more ‘secure‘ a person is the less they will control, instead they will ADAPT as best as they can to the situation at hand. They are able to process the pros and cons of a situation and try to make the best decision they can whist knowing they could be wrong. In turn, they are less likely to be critical of others because they empathise with complexity of each unfolding situation. Hence they understand that as humans we do get things wrong even if we had the best intentions.
In and of itself “a public telling off” may or may not be a bad thing? Criticising the child may or may not be a positive move forward? Making excuses for a defeat and blaming the officials may or may not be a good thing to help a child’s confidence. Shouting instructions and being overtly emotional might be good for Dad to do but not Mum! Saturdays in April may be ideal for strict technical practice sessions but Saturday in August may be best spent away from adults messing about with friends.
Crucially, those who have evolved to higher stages of maturity can forgive themselves and learn for next time. Admittance of mistakes with an understanding that mistakes can happen but hopefully reduced is a great sign of a psychologically healthy human being. This way fear is reduced, trust in oneself is built and judgement of others lessens. Love begins to fill up the space where anxiety once lived.
In my book “The Winning Parent” I do not propose a perfect way to be a sports parent. I simply provide a structure “The Winning Flightpath” for you to use as a scaffold to build your own levels of GROWTH. The aim of the book is to help you evolve to a more flexible and fearless supporter of your child’s journey. The CONTENT of your situation is yours to own and decide what is best. It is your depth of wisdom and your ability to keep overcoming challenges that will reduce your fears. Your wants will remain wants and not cross into the realm of NEEDS. That is a big difference.
Part 2 – reducing 3 fears, a modern dilemma, solutions
Danny Massaro, June 16
‘The Winning Parent’ available at Amazon