I need to preface this blog with the statement that 42 years ago when Sheryl and I started walking this road of Missionary life we decided that we would never interject politics into our news letters or our public presentations.
Sheryl and I have political beliefs – but we choose not to let them interfere in our ministry.
We will pray for all our political leaders because everyone needs prayer.
The Golf Swing and Actions Speak Louder Than Words
My son has been studying the golf swing of the great golfers our time. The swings of Jack Nickolas, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, and Phil Mickelson all had one thing in common. I think we can apply at least one thing from the swings of theses great golfers to our lives.
Looking at their swing, when you start from a standing position, you start the swing by drawing the club back over your shoulder.
The next part of the swing is when the club comes down toward the ball, accelerating until the moment it strikes the ball. Then the club rotates through the ball, over and around the golfer’s other shoulder. Everything that happens after hitting the ball is called “follow through”. For us lay people this is a part of what directs the ball and what gives the ball it’s momentum.
Last month we talked about setting the boundary.
This month, the following step, the more important step is “following through” on enforcing that boundary.
Now let’s look at the golf swing and see what happens if we don’t “follow through”.
We have spent years developing a relationship with our kids. we have talked with them. We have gone to the park. I have taught them how to ride their bikes. I have taken them to McDonalds. I have watched little league baseball games, soccer games, band concerts and all kinds of awards banquets.
All of that is the golf swing equivalent of setting the ball on the tee and getting ready to hit the ball. That is called “addressing the ball”.
Now comes setting the boundary.
Just between you and me, it doesn’t matter what your boundary is.
It should be reasonable.
Playing with a ball in the middle of the freeway is not reasonable. Running in the house carrying sharp scissors is not reasonable. Playing catch with a breakable vase is not reasonable.
Bedtimes are somewhat negotiable, what kids eat are somewhat negotiable and what kids watch on TV is somewhat negotiable.
Use some commonsense and create a few boundaries that you can uphold.
Back to the golf swing.
By setting the boundary with your children you just swung the club back over your shoulder in the first part of the swing. This is the first move of the swing. It is the most important move of the golf swing. Without it, nothing else ever happens. So to with children. Without boundaries there is never any growth.
Now comes the next part with your children. The consistency. If you say you are going to do it – you have to do it. It is that simple. Your relationship is built on trust – and trust is built on doing what you said you would do- every time. They don’t care about your job or whether you are sick or that the car is broke. You said you would take them to the park – so let’s go to the park.
A promise is a two edge sword. It is a commitment you are making to someone else and a promise you are making to yourself.
When it comes to boundaries the word you need to remember is consistency.
When you make your boundaries make sure you can keep them because your children will judge you by how well you keep them.
So let go back to the golf swing.
What do you think would happen if the golfer would go though all the motion, all the preparation and just at the moment when the golf club would strike the ball he would stop all movement. Come on. Take a guess. You can do it!
The ball would sit there. Right? Or maybe move a few feet. In reality, the golfer couldn’t stop all movement so he would hit the ball but it should be a weak hit and the ball would go 40 or 50 yards, not the 250 he wanted.
Separating the swing from the follow through in golf, is like setting up the boundaries and the consequences and then not following through with them.
Raising kids today is difficult. So many parents go through the motions of parenting. In some cases it has become so important to them that their kids like them, to be their friend, that they forget to be their parents.
Parenting is designed for parents to be the referee in the family. After the rules have been agreed upon by everyone it is the parent that calls the foul. They decide when the child has crossed the line and then follow through with the consequences the have already been decided on.
It was the child’s choice to break the rule. It was the child’s choice to suffer the consequences.
The parent does not make the child break the rules.
If the child does not want the consequences, don’t break the rules that he agreed to.
Parenting works best when everyone decides where the line is. When the kid crosses over the line then the parent does what they have already agreed upon would happen.
THEY DO NOT SAY, “Well, this was just your first time. Just don’t do it again.”
If they were to say that, at that moment, you as a parent would lose all credibility with your child. Nothing you say can be trusted by your child.
Now comes the difficult job of rebuilding trust.
You have to start with an apology.
“I am sorry. I was wrong. I will do better”.
Your child will not believe you, but you have to start with those nine words and then prove them by backing up your actions with words – because actions speak louder than words.
So start small and earn his/her trust. Do what you say you will do 50 or even 100 times until they begin to trust you again. It will take that long.
Earning trust after it has been broken is difficult and time consuming – but it must be done.
Just remember, don’t make promises you can’t keep.
I am sorry this has ended as a downer – but the reality is that this is serious stuff.
Our culture has raised a generation of young adults who do not know where the boundaries are and have no concept of consistency.
It is never to late to start training them, Jesus will get a hold of some but for many the lessons will be harsh.
The other thing to consider is this.
We started by talking about some of the great golfers of our time. How long did it take them to perfect their swing? Were they born with them? Did they perfect them in a day or two? The answer is it took them years to develop the skill that allowed them to hit the ball just like they wanted to.
It is the same way for you and I.
It will take us time to develop the skill to be the parent our children need us to be to handle every situation our children put us in as they grow up.
The goal of every parent is to raise adults to be responsible in order to contribute to society in a positive way.
In order to do this let’s make sure our actions speak louder than our words.