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Don't Become a Seamless Cacophony of Harsh Words
Offer both praise and encouragement.
The man would praise every other child on the soccer field but never his own son. And his son was good. Not the best on the field, but it was a strong team. He ran hard, made good passes, and scored a few goals.
His father was always there on the sidelines, telling him to push harder, pass better, get open, and more. Whatever his son did was never enough. He would score a goal and his father would remain silent. He would make an impressive assist, and still, his father would remain silent.
One tiny imperfection, however, and his father would be yelling at him to do better. It wasn’t that this man had no praise to give. When other boys on the team did something well, he was quick to offer encouragement or say, “Great shot.”
But never for his son.
On another team, I witnessed a different father. This man also called on his son to improve and do better. But this man was also his son’s biggest fan, and it was obvious in every single interaction. For every good thing his son did, the father shouted praises. Sometimes he would jump up and down in excitement. In one game, the son scored four goals, and each time, from the father’s reaction, you’d think the boy had raised the dead.
Two Paths When There is Nothing but Criticism
I don’t want to shame the first dad. He was there for every practice and every game. He obviously cared. And it might be that he offered praises at different times and places.
But he did start to sound like a clanging gong. Just a seamless cacophony of harsh words. There are usually two paths a boy can take when subjected to such assault on his ears.
He will start to ignore it. It washes over him as if he was a rock in a river. This is dangerous because, when his father has something important to say, he won’t be listening.
He will give up. The constant barrage will cause him to wilt, and he’ll think he’ll never be good enough, so what’s the point?
You want neither of these things to happen. You want to feed, water, and prune your sons with wisdom and patience so they grow to be fruitful. Don’t forget to praise and encourage.
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