I know I've talked about this before. Is criticism necessary?
What if it's constructive?
I'm beginning to wonder if the rule of tattling applies; if no physical harm is actually being done and there is no imminent danger, then maybe it's best, unless asked, to keep our mouths shut.
When kids find things that they are good at, it's fun to watch them. Our cheerleading can sometimes get carried away, especially if it's a competitive sport. We may find the need to vocalize our support loudly, becoming THAT parent. The really annoying one we never dream of being.
I'm loud at the best of times, why would I not believe this would transcend into every other aspect of my life.
What I didn't know is that I'd be critical.
I'd like to think I'm a positive supporter and most of the time I am, but I caught myself saying something to my son after a sporting loss that I regretted almost immediately.
He plays basketball and I felt like he wasn't giving it his best effort. It was a close game but in the end they lost. Not two minutes after the game, I came in strong with a specific criticism of his performance. He already was feeling the weight of the loss and I essentially kicked him while he was down. He could hardly contain the tears and was immediately ashamed.
It was right then, I realized something. He needed my support, not criticism.
I, like so many parents, need to remember this is a game and it's their time to play. I am not his coach, at least not this time, therefore I don't need to weigh in here. I have the privilege of being a supportive spectator and hopefully his No. 1 fan.
Most of these kids aren't going pro, and probably won't even play sports in college, so this is for fun. Sports and extracurricular activities shape and develop their character, as well as fine tune their interpersonal and team-building skills.
It's a harsh world out there and it's our job to build them up. Life will deal enough blows. I'm not saying we can't be real, but most of the time they have a coach or a teacher that will deliver the criticism they need. More likely than not, he already knows what he needs to work on and he just needs me to clap and give the thumbs-up and wear the button with his picture on it. Oh yeah! I'm totally THAT mom.
After I felt the pangs of guilt immediately follow my harsh words, I apologized and found all the things I loved and praised him for them.
We high-fived and hugged.
When it comes to the sporting arena, I will try to remember my place.
But if he leaves his dirty underwear on the floor one more time, no amount of good defense will save him.
P.S. This is all idealistic and I may from time to time forget and still say the critical things. #onlyhuman
Jen Reekie was born and raised in Quincy and received a communications degree at the University of Kansas, which has come in quite handy as she communicates every day with four children who don't hear a word she says. This stay-at-home mom enjoys the challenge, though, and shares her experiences in this blog, "Mum's the Word." She welcomes your feedback, questions and stories about staying sane while raising kids.