Saturday, August 04, 2012

A Father's Reach Should Exceed His Grasp

... else how to teach kids to be ambitious? Or something like that.

So this summer, my parenting goals have included teaching my daughter to be self-motivated and become really good at something. She chose soccer, specifically working on her speed. In addition to this, I wanted her to manage her own diet and understand the value of healthy eating. I'm falling back off that last one and just focusing on the first.

It's one thing to understand diet and nutrition. It's quite another to be able to resist temptation when your weaknesses include a love of carbs and a touch of sloth. Eating something healthy is a bit more work than opening the box of Cheez-its (nature's most perfect food). Right now, that's a battle that can't be won without a lot more work than I'm willing to give, so I'm punting on that and going back to being her Dietary Police Force.

As for the self-motivation, she's starting to pick up on that. I've got her reading Talent is Overrated and she's beginning to see how and why this whole practice thing works. She's always complained that some girls pick up the game easier than she does. When we discussed one in particular, it turned out that the girl played field hockey on the high school team in the fall season. While the other girl was doing that, my daughter was playing club soccer.

Club soccer practices twice a week. Field hockey practices 5 days a week. Two hour practices give the other girl a 6 hour per week advantage. Assuming a 12-week season, that adds up to 72 more hours of practice for the other girl over my daughter. Clearly, my daughter has to put in time on her own to keep up.

That kind of thing is proving to be an easier lesson to learn than the eating. In soccer, the temptations of sloth can be overcome with some encouragement and an object lesson or two in her team practices where she sees other girls who are better than she is.

This summer has seen one success and one failure. Oh well. If you succeed at everything you try, it just means you're not ambitious enough, right?

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