Parenting can pose some tricky problems every once in a while that you really have to stop, pause, and figure out how to handle. So, let me tell you about the one that we dealt with last week. It’s not a big deal. It’s just like one of those little moments where you’re like, ‘This is a tough one.’
We’re here at the Jersey Shore where we spend our summers. My husband grew up coming here as a kid because he’s from Philly and it’s nearby. Our kids take sailing and tennis lessons at the camp they go to. None of them like the sailing lessons because sailing is scary when you’re learning – you can get hit in the head with a boom, you can capsize, the waves are intimidating. Our little guy Thatcher, who just turned 10, doesn’t enjoy it but we’re making him do it.
The kids have their little Opti boats, which are relatively easy to sail. That’s easy for me to say, I don’t know how to sail anything. But in any event, they have to do these ‘interclub’ events where our club competes against other clubs. When you go to those, there are tons of boats, so the stress level goes up even more. The day before Thatcher was supposed to participate in one there was an incident at our club. His boat got hit by a bigger boat. Older kids who were not where they were supposed to be inadvertently rammed into his boat. He was hit in the head with their boom and ejected into the water. He was fine. He just had a little knot on his head.
The night before the big interclub, Thatcher is saying to me, ‘I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to go to the interclub tomorrow.’ I asked him if it was because of what happened, and he said, ‘No, I just hate the interclubs. They’re big, and they’re stressful, and I don’t want to go.’ Normally, I’d be like, alright, don’t go. We’re not preparing you to be a professional sailor. But earlier that day, the coaches had come to him and asked if was going to go, and he said yes. The instructors packed up his boat and a sail, which is a hassle, and they drove it along with the other little Optis. They got the boat there, and they were counting on him to represent. That changed it for me. He said he would be there. He told the coaches that. They worked on his behalf. The team was counting on him showing up to represent. He had been given the chance to bail out, and he passed on it.
Now, I’m in a situation where he’s begging me not to make him go, but I really want him to understand that doing what you said you are going to do is important in life. He’s fine. He didn’t get a concussion. It’s not like it’s not safe for him to be out there. But he was crying. He’s my sweet babe. He doesn’t want to go. So, I landed with: ‘I’m not going to make you go, but you told everyone you were going to be there. You need to understand that you’re letting down your team, you’re letting down your coaches, and you’re not living up to your word. So, I’m not going to make you feel bad. I’m not going to say a word about it if you bail. But you need to understand what the stakes are making this decision.’
With that, I went down to my bedroom and I prayed. I prayed that he would make the right decision because what if he says, ‘I’m not going?’ What if he spends the day sitting at home watching TV, letting the people down, and failing to overcome his fear? Those are the stakes. These are the moments in which you make a man, you make a good person.
Anyway, he said he would do it – thank God! My prayers were answered. And the story does not end with him going and winning the interclub. He was basically at the midway mark. He was halfway in the pack. That’s fine. He did it. And truly it was just one of those moments where it could have gone either way. In the moment, I didn’t know if we were handling it right as parents. But now, with retrospect, it feels like it landed where it should. You do have those moments where it’s not existential, but you realize there’s more riding on it than a stupid game or sporting event. The stakes go up for you as a parent and your kid as a developing adult.
Parenting is such an interesting challenge. You have all these opportunities to change things for them around the edges and maybe weigh in on their future, but these are character-defining moments. I don’t think you can’t change their natural temperament, but you can certainly give character-building lessons. It requires some thought, some reflection, and it does require you to be there.
You can check out Megyn’s full conversation with Loesch by tuning in to episode 602 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.