May 28, 2015
How can you teach your kids the importance of the decisions they make off the mat?
Obsession can be a good thing if channeled correctly. I don’t think that I ever met someone who was the best at what they did without being a little obsessive about accomplishing their goals. It’s the same in wrestling. A lot of the best wrestlers in the world are obsessive. They love what they do, and they are constantly looking for ways to improve their craft. However, just because you love something and want to do well at it shouldn’t be an excuse to give lack luster performances in other areas of life.
Our culture loves winners. When you’re a winner, you pretty much get a pass to be a failure in other areas of life. Who doesn’t know a high school teacher who gives A’s to star athletes even though they are terrible students? There have been various college scandals involving high profile athletes where they were given a free pass because they were good at putting a ball in a hole or carrying a ball from one end of the field to the other. I think this is even more apparent in professional sports. You have a few super elite athletes who do some pretty terrible things off the field. I love sports, and I respect all of the hard work that goes into developing into a world class athlete. However, anyone who has been involved in athletics knows that eventually the days of glory out on the field or the court or the mat will come to an end. Hopefully you’ve prepared your child for that day because it can be a rude awakening for some.
My high school coach is an amazing man. Of course he wanted his athletes to win. He wanted them to be tough on the mat and dominate their opponents. However, I still remember how often he would emphasize that it was important to be a good person off of the mat. I’m sure that he well understood that not all of his wrestlers would go on to wrestle past high school or even onto the next season for that matter. He understood that he wasn’t just building a championship wrestling team, he knew that he was building young men and preparing them to face the challenges of life that they would surely face in the future. He repeated this over and over again. I have no doubt that he was a positive influence for the hundreds of athletes that went through his programs. He was not shy about communicating how important it was to make good decisions off the mat.
I feel like a lot of parents don’t give themselves enough credit. I feel that sometimes they get used to repeating themselves so often, that they start to think that their kids aren’t listening, but they are. Sometimes parents want a celebrity or a coach or a teacher or someone else to teach their kids the important lessons of life, but the truth is that parents have a huge influence over how their kids think, talk, and act. Parents discount their importance. They don’t realize that they are often times their kids heroes. It’s too easy as a parent to think “I’m not educated enough. I don’t make enough money. I work too much. My kids don’t listen. I don’t know anything about xyz, etc…” Some of those statements may be true, but that doesn’t mean that your kids aren’t listening. More importantly your kids are watching. They are experts at testing the limits, and they can see what is important to you. If you give your a kids a free pass because they can win wrestling matches, they will take advantage of that. On the other hand, if you let them know that they won’t be competing if they don’t put in their study time, you can bet that your child will make studying a priority.
As the parent, you set the tone. When you think about it, parents are the head coaches of the family. They have the power to build the team that they want. Just like any other team or competitive season, there will be ups as well as downs. The best way to teach your kids that the decisions they make off of the mat are important is to communicate with them. Be creative and find examples of what to do and what not to do. You don’t have to be the star athlete. You just need to get good at helping your kids see different scenarios and how different behaviors can have different outcomes. If you can get good at that, not only will you pleased with your children’s athletic performances, you will be pleased with their life choices, and that will make every parent smile.