When Daddy always knows best
Parents always have the best of intentions for their children. But imagining what their children find motivational is sometimes not their greatest gift. What a parent assumes his child will find motivational is sometimes way off the mark. Parents often make wrong assumptions. The passion of a strong leader in a family can produce unforeseen consequences.
My friend is an exercise devotee. He played rugby well into his forties and, now approaching sixty, he still runs marathons. And that is a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with exercise. It is essential for a healthy body and a healthy mind and my friend is passionate about exercise in all its forms. However, my friend is now blessed with five lovely daughters. He makes sure they exercise. He calls them his “troops”.
Recently on a Boxing Day morning I phoned my friend’s home to enquire how they were all recovering in that house after the previous Christmas Day festivities. I was only able to reach my friend on his mobile phone. He was out “exercising” with his teenage daughters. It was early and it was a cold, wet morning. They were all doing laps of a local running track.
I hope they all enjoyed it.
I have another friend who absolutely detests gardening. His father was a very keen gardener. For the father, gardening meant striding across a small field and spending worthwhile time in producing food for his family.
But for his son, wearing short trousers in 1960s Ireland, gardening meant wading through tall, wet grass liberally sprinkled with stinging nettles. It meant surrendering many hours of his childhood days. It meant pulling at weeds and thistles without much success and without any gardening glove luxuries.
The father needed all the help he could get to produce food for a large family. His motivation for gardening was inspired by sheer necessity.
But adult necessity did not motivate the young boy. And so, to this day, gardening actually makes the now grown man experience a latent anger.
This anger showed itself, to everyone’s surprise, when the man was well into his fifties and was asked to help out a neighbour with her overgrown garden. He willingly obliged and set to with gusto only to realise, several hours later, that he had attacked everything in sight in the garden. Weed and flower, shrub and briar, the good and the bad of the flower beds, all were treated with the same ferocity. By the time evening came nothing remained but a waste land.
For the father, gardening was a hugely motivational activity. It was anything but for his son.
What is motivational or is a passion for one member of a group, such as a family, can leave another member cold. Imposing what one believes will or “should” motivate another can result in completely the opposite of what is intended.
Assuming that everyone in the group will respond to a universal motivator can leave a mark for a lifetime.