Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Value of Mean Parents

This morning, my sister and her lovely daughter took Julia to the gym to run three miles while I was still asleep. I did what I do every day, worked most of the day, including fixing a few bugs and recording an interview for the Red Man Laughing podcast.

While Julia was back, working on her pre-calculus homework, I got to thinking about how different this is from when Ronda was younger. When she was 11, 12 or 13 years old, I was getting her up every morning and making her run, driving her to judo every night. Part of the difference is age. When Ronda was 11 years old, I was 39. When Julia was 11 years old, I was 50.

Because I'm older, Julia has had to do more things on her own. Plus, she chose to play soccer about which I know only what I learned from watching the movie, Bend It Like Beckham.

Unfortunately, it is a disadvantage to not have a mean parent chasing you in sprints uphill.

Three reasons "mean parents" are an advantage:
  1. If you have a mean parent who makes you get up and run even when you don't want to do it, makes you practice drills when you want to watch TV, you get better at your sport.
  2. You get used to training hard and pushing past your comfort zone, so even when there is no one around to make you, it is still a habit.
  3. As you grow up, you realize that person who was pushing you who you thought was really awful at the time was really someone who really loved you and had your best interests at heart, when the people blowing smoke up your ass about your great talent did not. This is a huge benefit because, as an adult, you will need people around you who push you to improve and stay ahead of the competition. If you've been pushed by someone who loved you as a child when you are an adult, you are going to be able to have a better relationship with coaches, managers, agents and others who want you to do more than you feel like doing at the moment.
 Notice I said "mean" not "crazy".

I put this in the same post because I did not want people to misconstrue it. Here are some ways to know if you are crazy.

  1. If you have a child under 8 years old training every day of the year. They're A KID. You may end up with the toughest eight-year-old in the world. So fucking what? I won the world championships. Do you know who the toughest eight-year-old judo player in the world was when I was a kid? Yeah, me, neither.
  2. If you have taken a second mortgage on your home, quit your job, moved across country so your child can have a better opportunity training. Don't make grown-up life decisions based on your child's sport because what if they break a leg or decide to join band instead?
  3. If you cannot truly answer the question, "Are you doing this for yourself or your child?", unequivocally with, "For my child", well, I don't know whether or not you are a crazy parent but you are certainly a bad one.
What if you aren't in a position to be the "mean parent"?

 I am older now and I'm not so dishonest or stupid as to pretend that I'm in the same shape in my fifties as I was in my thirties. Plus, I have a company to run. 

I think there are still some things I can offer.  I still know what it takes to be a successful athlete and can let Julia know when I don't think she is doing it.

Although I can't get out and run up and down the fields with her or teach her ball handling skills, I can make arrangements for her to get those opportunities - I see a lot of summer camps in her future. Being very cognizant of the unhealthy atmosphere and the potential for abuse at camps, she'll be going as a day camper or we will be staying in the area while she's at camp - but that's a post for another day.

----------- SHAMELESS PLUG
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Anonymous said...

I really wish you were my mom when I read posts like these. My mom always made it harder for me saying things like "Don't train too hard", "You're overstraining yourself" etc. I guess the only bonus I got from that is that I grew up to be extremely self-motivated and with a complete disregard as to what other people consider "normal". But still, every now and then I wish I had a family that pushed me, instead of comfortably sitting on their sofas telling me I'm crazy.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a balancing act. My parents pushed me hard and continue to push me hard. It wasn't necessarily in sport, but they have pushed me to continue achieving in life in general, which is a good thing. I am where I am because of my parents.

On the other hand though, I really wish my parents can sometimes sit back and enjoy things. Being successful is always a tough "mountain climb" but sometimes I wish my parents would stop every so often and be present to enjoy the view along the way.

So like I said - it's a balance between the too. Just my 2 cents.

mike ripple said...

Hi Mrs DeMars!

I just bought the hardback...now I have to figure out how I am going to get it signed by your daughter! Gotta pick an event in the future, I guess. Do you know if she will be in house for the New Orleans UFC event in June? I think it is before the judo event in Denham Springs, La. which I think is on the 20th.

With regard to this blog's subject matter, let me say this...
I believe young children to be very receptive to both physical as well as cerebral stimuli. A child's adaptability is virtually limitless. Children today are capable of learning more (especially in math) and exerting more physical energy at a much younger age than the present status quo. As a rule, the child's parental guardian is always the limiting factor in that equation....especially for single parents. As it turns out there just isn't enough time in the day for this ideal to reach fruition....and I am speaking from a 'home school' vantage point.
In a 'perfect' utopian world where no one wants for anything and time is irrelevant, I can see children at age 7 mastering quintic solutions, fourier transforms, and volterra integrals...and others writing symphonies at 6....and still others becoming champion gymnasts at 8.
My wife died when my two girls were very young and I never remarried. My biggest regret is not teaching them more when they were very young.
You are on the right track, Mrs. DeMars...math is everything....it is the language of the universe.


Anonymous said...

It is possible to be a mean and crazy parent. My parents are perfect examples of that. They've never pushed me out of my comfort zone, I had to do that on my own. They thought I was "stupid" for doing so, as they ignorant interpreted such actions as "reckless." My parents were the epitome of mediocrity, and I was mad for massive success. They hated that and tried to "correct" me by trying to make me more like them. Their behavior annoyed me, and that's why they're no longer around... (smiles like the Joker)

mike ripple said...

Hi Mrs. DeMars...

I just noticed Ronda posted a link to first edition signed, limited edition copies of the book, but when I clicked on it...nothing.
Would you know if there are any left and if so...where to get them???