The 14 year old addresses the ball… first tee at Yarra Bend.
Just as he starts his swing, his dad stops him and says,
“Before you tee off, did you know that your feet are pointing out towards the ninth fairway?”
“I know what I’m doing dad!” The young man’s reply has more than a hint of an agitated tone.
“OK, do what you like” says his dad and the young bloke hits off…
… at a 45 degree angle into the rough on the side of the ninth fairway.
Despite his dad’s prediction being correct, this fails to instill awe and respect within the son for his father’s knowledge of the game, ability to forecast the future or his life-lived acquired wisdom. In fact for the next nine holes or so, every bad shot is his dad’s fault for putting him off on the first tee.
If you are raising a teenager as you read this, or recall doing so, you may well resonate with the experience of not having to do much to be ‘booked’ by your kids. He morphed into a less grumpy version of himself by the back nine and much of the credit for that goes to his Grandad, the other golfer in this three generation grouping.
Grandad Viv sidled up for a couple of little ‘alongside’ chats up and down those fairways… arm on his shoulder, some well chosen moments to get a point across more sternly, all of these were well received by the same 14 year old who was so unhappy with his dad. Grandad provided the circuit breaker… he could get away with a few more things than his son-in-law who got ‘booked’ way back on the first tee.
It is important to say here, not every kid has a grandparent… some are not as lucky as the young subject of this story – he has all four still alive and well. If the latter is your situation, consider the elders you trust who could play a role in your teenager’s world. They are so important.
So what was happening here? Firstly there’s an old classic in there – can you see it? How hard is it to hold back when you can see that the direction your kid might be going in, might be the wrong one? Isn’t it difficult to bite your tongue when you have made the same mistake yourself? The father here didn’t even wait for his son to play his first shot before he was giving him advice. There’s a fairly obvious metaphor in there that, if it is safe, isn’t it a good thing to be near by as they make the odd mistake?
It’s far better to wait to respond gently to the question, “what am I doing wrong”, than to go head long into a lecture about what will go wrong.
And the other great aspect is that Grandad was there. In the cut and thrust of everyday life, having back up… someone who can offer their advice and play a role in a young person’s world does them and their parents, so much good.
Of course you have probably worked out that the dad in this story is your blogger. Good thing that when he started this parent-child program work full time, he had two things he was sure he wanted to say to the world.
1. No parent is perfect (even though the media subtly pressures parents to be super-people).
2. Half the battle is being there… being there alongside your kids even when you are not getting it right and…
… being there with people like my father-in-law, my son’s Grandad, who is such a great help to me and the mighty Lisa as we raise our two teenage kids.
Feel free to write your thoughts below and consider… who are the elders that help you along the way?