Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do. 1Thessalonians 5:11
During a recent snow day, I had my kids watch the movie Greater with me. Based on a true story, it’s about the pudgy and uncoordinated Brandon Burlsworth who dreams of becoming a football player for the Arakansas Razorbacks. With intense focus, extreme dedication, and really, really hard work, Brandon defies the odds and becomes one of the best walk-on players in college history. He also ends up getting drafted by a professional football team.
Sometimes I worry that my kids are becoming lazy and entitled. Like I saw on a billboard recently, I want them to understand that the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. My hope was that Brandon’s hard work ethic would inspire them, maybe rub off on them.
As is usual, I think I learned more from the mom in the movie than my kids learned from Brandon. Not only did Mrs. Burlsworth love her son unconditionally, but she believed in him no matter what. When the twelve year old Brandon proclaimed his dream while sitting on the couch, watching TV, overweight and munching on potato chips, she affirmed him 100 %. Although everyone else saw the cold, harsh reality, her eyes of love only saw him as a success. When Brandon turned down a full scholarship to a college because it wasn’t the home of the Razorbacks, the mom mortgaged everything to the hilt to pay for his first year at his dream school, the University of Arkansas.
At first I struggled with how passive the mom was. Most of the setbacks Brandon had were because she didn’t see reality and guide him. She did nothing but love and encourage him, not wavering in her support, not even once.
What she knew, and it took me a while to figure out, is Brandon had plenty of people in his life telling him the harsh reality. She was the only mom he had. She knew that a mother’s unconditional support beats an army of dream crushers any day.
Like Brandon, we all know plenty of naysayers who punch holes in our dreams. But how many of us get the gift of even one person in our lives who supports us, no matter what, no matter how crazy our dreams are?
I am one of the fortunate ones who have that in common with Brandon. I have been blessed beyond measure with my own Mrs. Burlsworth. I may not have made history, but any success I have ever had can be traced back to my own mother, and her complete and unwavering love and support. Ask anyone who knows her and they’ll tell you: I’m not stretching the truth about my mom, not one bit.
What saddens me, though, is my kids can’t say the same about me. Of course I love them unconditionally; but I can’t say I support them unconditionally too. Instead, I bring reality into the picture. I think I am being helpful by grounding them, when in fact, I am deflating them. Moreover, in my attempt to turn every moment into a teaching moment, I turn their dreams into lessons. All they end up hearing is, “Sure you can do that if you work hard, blah, blah, blah,” when all they want to hear is “Of course you can!”
Right after watching that movie, I tried a little experiment. If you’ve read previous posts, you know my son Mason is a slow-as-molasses kid. The other day, he needed to get dressed quickly. Usually I would have given him three different ideas of how to make that happen. Instead, I simply said, “I know you can do it.”
That’s all Mason needed to hear. In literally two minutes flat, he was back again, completely dressed. That may be normal for your kids, but never, NEVER once has that happened with Mason.
When I asked him how he solved the problem, he said he used the Harry Potter In 99 Seconds song as his tool. He knew he had to be fully dressed before he finished singing the song. Not only did Mason solve the problem I have been trying to solve FOR YEARS, but he grew ten feet tall with pride in his solution.
Needless to say, “I know you can do it” has become my new go-to phrase. I’m watching it transform my household. It’s inspiring my kids to figure things out on their own, and conveys the message that I believe in them 100 %.
Everyday I try to be the best mom I can be: teaching my kids at every turn, all day long, about what is right, and how to accomplish things. I think it’s time to talk less, and support more. I already love my kids unconditionally. Now it’s time to support them unconditionally as well.
Questions For Reflection:
* When my kids share their hopes and dreams, do I support them unconditionally? Or do I try to ground them in reality?
* When my kids struggle with something, do I try to teach them all the ways they can solve the problem? Or do I empower them to solve it themselves, truly believing they’ll figure it out by themselves?
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I can second the fact that your mom is AMAZING and such a great cheerleader and supporter of you!!!
This was a great post and another sign (in a long list of signs I have received lately) that I need to make some changes in my parenting style. As I have done research for MOSAIC Kids, I am blown away by how many children have created AMAZING service organizations at the ages of 8-14. The common thread with all of these children are parents who say “OK” to their children wanting to make a difference instead of “That’s nice dear” or “That will never work”. These parents act more as a guide rather than a realist. I too often play the realist……
Also watching “Bad Mom’s” the other night (of all movies), I was inspired by the fact that she “quit” and wanted her kids to take on more of the responsibility at home and in their learning. Her stepping back and letting them do things on their own (though not pretty at first) helped them to become more independent people. I don’t consider myself a helicopter parent but I do micromanage at times and control way more than I should. Just this week I have also been encouraging my kids to “figure it out” and the new found independence has been liberating for all of us.
Oh this motherhood gig….always a BIG WORK in PROGRESS 🙂
I think we’re cut from the same mold, Jess. I too micromanage and control, and the results aren’t good. But with my mom, and now Mrs. Burlsworth as my inspiration, I am bound and determined to show unconditional support to my kids. God made them amazing. I need to raise them that way 🙂 P.S. – If you haven’t clicked on the Harry Potter youtube song link yet, you have to. You would LOVE it!
Claire, you have me in tears! It is easy to be supportive when I have all of you kids who are ALWAYS supportive, loving and caring. I have been blessed beyond belief! I am in awe of your mothering–always learning and relating all to your belief and trust in God. Your kids are blessed in you!! xoxo
I love you, Mom!
I agree, Auntie Helen is one amazing lady!! ❤️
Amen to that, Jean!
Such a great post!! I’m so guilty of putting limits on my kids dreams and plans. This is inspiring me to step back and support them without telling them all the negatives and things that can and will go wrong. I need to just love them and let them dream and try sometimes!! Thanks Claire. xoxox
I also agree that you hit the jackpot in the Mom department! 🙂
Love your comment about loving them, letting them try, and letting them dream. That sums it up in a nutshell. Thanks, Pam!
Loved this post! You are an amazing mom and your mom is too! ❤
Thanks,Michelle! Right back at you. Your kids are blessed to have you 🙂
I learned a lot from this post. I am going to work on that too. I would love my kids to “grow 10-feet tall with pride”. Thanks Claire!!
I think you’re already amazing at this, Kerry. You are an amazing cheerleader for your kids and they are so lucky to have you 🙂
I meant to send a note earlier how much This post resonated especially at this time. We feel the job of mom to protect and explaining realities is part of that but I definitely forget the support aspect. I try to remind myself their path not mine…it may not be what I would choose but I will run along side cheering …need to implement in my own parenting.
I want to see that film now .
I love that mantra Liz – “their path not mine.” It boils the whole idea down to one golden nugget. Thanks for that. I HIGHLY recommend the movie! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 🙂