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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