“If it doesn’t suck, we don’t do it.”
Parenting is hard! Most of us want our children to grow up with a strong work ethic, an unstoppable drive to achieve their dreams, and to be good people along the way. The best way to teach our children is by showing them those qualities in ourselves. Like it or not, every behavior we exhibit, they see, judge and possibly replicate. As parents we have many teaching tools at our disposal to shape our children, but for me physical fitness is the tool of choice. I’m not saying I make my son workout. I make it a point to exercise 4 times a week, and sometimes he joins me one of those days. Those days always provide a great teaching opportunity.
I hate running. I’ve been a powerlifter, a kettlebell instructor, and recently dove into the world of calisthenics. After reading the book “Living With A Seal”, by Jesse Itzler, I decided to try running. Now, keep in mind that even though I make a living in the fitness industry up until 4 months ago I had only run a mile (without stopping) once in my entire life! I started running simply because I knew it sucked and it would get me in better cardiovascular shape. The book proved what my wife has said before, I needed some mental toughness…. running happened to be the tool to provide it. Over the last 4 months I’ve run a mile many times, but the best miles were the ones with my 12 year old son, Dylan.
Dylan, has ran with me a few times and each time we push each. When I want to walk he wants to keep going, and when he wants to walk I want to keep running. We track our times and have improved each week. It’s been a great vehicle to teach the benefit of consistent hard work. Honestly it’s really fun to share small improvements with him. It’s also been a great springboard to talk about school work, baseball practice, and my other things that require consistent effort. Children need to see their parents grinding, working hard toward something better. They need to learn consistent action toward a goal will create progress and positive momentum.
Recently there has been a lot of social media attention placed on “participation awards”. My wife and I talk openly with our son about working hard to earn things instead of just being handed something for participating. These talks are sinking in because recently he threw out one of his baseball plaques because it said Participant on it! There are no “participation awards” for adults, you either get the job or you don’t. Those that are successful have learned the value in grinding, in working hard to improve themselves. It doesn’t have to be running, it could be simply eating a salad instead of cheesecake, or going for a walk instead of watching a TV show, or signing up at a gym instead of complaining about how you look or feel. All of these activities may be uncomfortable for you, but they might be the tool you need to not only improve yourself, but teach your child the importance of consistent effort towards a goal. Remember, little eyes are constantly watching.