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Instead of telling his son to toughen up, this dad taught his little man the importance of never giving up
When his son got upset at soccer practice because he wasn't performing as well as his teammates, this dad handled the situation like a pro.
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“Men don’t cry.”

“Toughen up.”

“Be a man.”

As a young boy, these are just some of the things you might have heard. You’re predisposed to a particular “rub some dirt on it” attitude. You were told that men don’t cry because that’s for girls, men have to work and mommies have to take care of the children because that’s how it’s always been, and boys play soccer and they have to be really good at it too, because, well, they’re boys.

But when an opportunity presented itself to Clint Edwards, a dad and the writer of No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog, he used his son Tristan’s breakdown at soccer practice as a teachable moment instead of telling him what countless others would have. In a Facebook post Clint explains that although he knew his son’s coach probably wanted him to give him some sort of man-up talk, upon reflection, he realised that that’s not what he wanted to hear as child.

“Every father since the history of ever has been faced with this decision. But the thing is, that's what I was always told when I was ten. Not by my father. He wasn't around. I was told that by coaches and other fathers. I was already strong enough to face things without a dad, so "toughen up talk" didn't make me feel stronger. It made me feel weaker. It made me quit," he explains.

So instead, Clint promised to buy his son an ice-cream cone, provided that he told him exactly what had happened at practice and why he had to sit out. So feeling positively obliged, of course, Tristan began to tell his father that he couldn’t get the ball during a drill and all the other boys could. He felt like he wasn’t good enough and said "I've been playing for five years and I haven't gotten any better. I just want to quit soccer."

Eating their ice-cream, his dad responded.

"It's not about being the best right there and then. It's about growth. It's about showing up and trying, really trying. It's about gaining skills. Your whole life will be like this: sports, school, work, family. It's all about showing up and trying. Sometimes I feel like I'm not getting any better at this whole dad thing. But I keep showing up and trying. Life is like that."

A young Tristan didn’t really get his dad’s rather philosophical and life-affirming pep talk. Clint wrote in his post, “For a moment I wondered if I'd messed this whole father chat up. Perhaps I should have taken the "man up" stance that so many fathers had used. It would have probably been easier, but it didn't feel right. Sometimes fatherhood is like that. I've been at it for 10 years, and I still don't know what I'm doing.”

While parenting can get a little confusing sometimes and no handbook is really going to tell you which approach to take, what to say and what not to say, we have a sneaking suspicion that Clint’s message to Tristan will do more good than if he had given him the tough love he was expected to.

So Clint asked, "Are you going to quit soccer?"

Tristan ate his ice-cream cone and responded, "No, I'm going to keep trying."

"Awesome," his Dad responded. "So am I."

Read the full post below:

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What do you think of this approach over the usual man-up talk when parenting your child? Tell us by commenting below or send your story to chatback@parent24.com and we may publish it.

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