I (and you, too, dear TouchlineDad reader) am very fortunate because Mark Richards, author and blogger has written a guest post. Mark’s multi-award winning blog, Best Dad I Can Be, charts his family’s antics, with the self-deprecating but dedicated Dad at the heart of matters.
Mark’s story is about one of the challenges any Dad or Mum, particularly perhaps one with touchline interests, can face.
When I was young I played cricket. Lots of cricket. How good was I? I was good enough to know that I wasn’t quite good enough – and if you play sport, you’ll know what that statement means. You have to be really good to know just how good the players are who are going to make it professionally.
No matter. I played a lot. I enjoyed it and wouldn’t it be fantastic when I had a son and I could teach him – and maybe he’d be just a little bit better than I was…
And yes. Child number one was a boy. I watched him in his playpen hitting a ball with his rattle and thought it looked pretty promising. Except when he went to school and started playing cricket it wasn’t. Tom was in the team. But he batted somewhere around no. 8 and he didn’t bowl much – and when he did it wasn’t very effective.
No matter. We practised in the garden. I taught him everything I knew. But he wasn’t getting any better. He tried and tried but he was never going to be any good at cricket. He knew it. I knew it. But he wanted to please me – and I wanted to encourage him.
Then one day Tom came to me. “Can I talk to you, Dad?” he said.
“Of course you can.”
“I don’t want to disappoint you. But I want to give up cricket. I’m no good at it.”
We talked about it and we agreed that Tom was right. Was I disappointed? No, I was full of admiration for my son. For a twelve year old boy, that was a courageous – and a mature – conversation to have.
So Tom stopped playing cricket. He went upstairs to his bedroom, where he downloaded a CAD programme and taught himself to use it. He started to design F1 cars and a little while later he downloaded a CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) programme and taught himself to use that. Then he imported the car he’d designed and ran virtual wind tunnel tests. At 17 he was invited to work in Red Bull’s aerodynamics department for two weeks; this summer – now aged 19 – he’s spending three months in Force India’s aero department.
I still remember that moment when he came to talk to me. I’m immensely proud of what he’s achieved – but I’m even prouder of the fact that he had the courage to recognise what he wasn’t good at, and pursue what he was good at. And that he wouldn’t let his Dad’s dreams stand in his way.
He taught me a lot as well. Trust your children. If they don’t want to do what you want them to do, that’s fine. Trust them to find their own way – and to know what they’re good at. After all, whatever they do, you’ll always be their number one supporter.
Have you faced the situation of your son or daughter saying they want to give up a pursuit that means a lot to you? How did you respond and what was the outcome?
Best Dad I Can Be is on twitter at @BestDadICanBe and available in book and e-book format.