I pride myself on keeping my cool, even in the face of danger. Spending years working in group homes, you learn to be quick with your brain to avert crisis, thinking a few steps ahead to deescalate situations that could otherwise spill into physical altercations.
When it comes to my children I’ve used these same skills to keep them safe and secure. You have to know when they need a hug or when they need space. You learn what makes them laugh and when they just need to vent about the stressors that have built up in their lives.
The mental game of life circles my family. It can be an up and down rollercoaster, but I never see things going at an even stance. Competition rules the two daughters, even in the littlest events. My wife could be grocery shopping and when my youngest hovers to the left of the cart, my oldest hovers to the right.
Today when my youngest had my wife’s attention for birthday invitations (as there is an impending birthday next month), the oldest immediately wanted to have help with a scrapbook- even if there was more free time to do the activity on another day or earlier in the week.
I’ve learned to be patient. I attempt to stay within the moment- much as I’ve learned throughout my bowling career. You don’t roll a perfect game in the first frame- and you can’t see the end until you are able to put together the game one shot at a time. These children will learn through our parental examples. You can love both of your children equally and in their own way. You can recognize their strengths individually without resorting to a ‘can you top this’ competition.
One of the best examples I read in the book The Power Of Small is the fact that children aren’t complimented as much on their hard work as they are being smart or talented. My wife and I recognize that stick to it work ethic will pay dividends when it comes to problem solving throughout their lives.
Use deep breathing and meditation/ visualization at least twice a day to improve your mental facilities. We encourage our kids to do this when they feel overwhelmed- or even when they just need to get into a different mindset. There’s nothing wrong with thinking before acting. Taking a step back will keep you from acting impulsively- and how many times do you look back and wish you had taken a second or ten before speaking, before moving, before sending out that hurtful text or e-mail?
Children will learn as long as there are teachers available and willing to teach them. Take your parental role seriously and they will grow up to be fine, upstanding adults that will carry on the tradition to their offspring.
The mental game of life twists and turns, a consistent work in progress. There are no winners or losers in my mind though- as I will never give up for the sake of my family.