Kids & Golf: Resisting the Urge to Teach
INSTILLING A LOVE FOR THE GAME, ONE HARD STEP AT A TIME
After being thrown into the lion’s den of this distance-learning thing, parents around the world have swiftly discovered that teaching kids is hard. And your own kids? Totally futile. I believe its a genetic predisposition for children to have an aversion to any type of teaching/advice/input that comes from their own parents. So why do parents continue to resist this gospel truth, convinced that only they can properly mold their child into the greatest sensation the world has ever seen?
Truth be told, I might have had similar hopes at one point. But after watching my son try to wear his underpants like a straightjacket, resulting in a very dramatic and claustrophobic melt down, all while my daughter was licking spilled sugar off the kitchen floor, I gave up on the “greatest sensation” thing and figured I would settle for raising children who were simply “happy.”
Novel concept, I know. But it can be done … once all the high expectations are shelved and we realize our kids are here to fulfill their journeys, not what we think their journeys should be. Still, I was convinced that it was me and only me who would teach them the great game of golf, as though I was some enlightened mentor who would bestow upon them the most precious teachings of the universe. Apparently, that was a bit too much to expect too.
I quickly ascertained that kids don’t want to hear “strengthen your grip” from the same person who tells them it’s time to take a shower or that they’ve played enough Fortnite for one day. I gave myself a hot minute to mourn the fact that it was highly unlikely I would be the one to effectively teach my kids the game.
“I QUICKLY ASCERTAINED THAT KIDS DON’T WANT TO HEAR
‘STRENGTHEN YOUR GRIP’ FROM THE SAME PERSON WHO TELLS THEM IT’S TIME TO TAKE A SHOWER OR THAT THEY’VE PLAYED ENOUGH FORTNITE FOR ONE DAY.”
As parents, we have to pick our battles, and I was afraid that if I insisted on winning this battle, I would eventually lose the war and my kids would never fully embrace the game I’ve spent so much of my life playing and teaching. Once I licked my wounds, I immediately made plans to take them (daughter 5, son 6 at the time) to a junior clinic that coming weekend. I figured I would gauge their interest in an untainted environment, free from mom’s high hopes sucking all the fun out of something they might otherwise enjoy.
And guess what? They loved it! They loved the games their golf instructor played with them. They loved the contagious excitement of the other kids in the group. And (probably) most of all, they loved (stabbing sensation in the gut) that mom wasn’t the one teaching them the game in a very “mom” way. Aha. That was it. The delivery was fresh. It was somebody else’s (anybody else’s) voice. I mean, even I get sick of hearing myself talk all day long. Why would it be different for them?
Then it hit me. I didn’t need to teach them the game in order to play it with them. I could just (gasp) … play! I suddenly realized that this was even better than teaching them the game. Enjoying it with them is the end goal, and I can attain that goal without having to deal with the ugliness of a cage match as I try to correct their ball position at setup.
Instead of being their teacher, I was simply their playing partner. Super cool. And when there was a glaring swing flaw that I simply could not turn a blind eye to, I would simply remind them that their golf instructor told them to do “this or that.” Now, whether he actually did or didn’t isn’t really the point here. What matters is the fact that I am keeping them from developing some really bad habits until their next golf lesson, all while making it seem like it’s not really coming from me.
Now my daughter is 8 and my son is 10, and instead of taking them to the driving range to work with them on their golf swings, my husband and I make tee times so that we can actually go play with them. This is the good stuff. This is what it’s about.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I don’t ever teach my kids anything. I do! When they let me. And it’s not like they cringe at the sound of my voice all the time. It’s just that … well, the shiny, impeccable picture in my head rarely matches real life.
Golf is a game that has given me and my family so much, and in turn, I wanted so badly to be able to pass that on to my kids. After thinking about it, though, I realized that I had — just not in the way I had dreamed. Whatever. My kids are neck deep in love with the great game of golf. I’m good.