YPO Young Presidents Organization is a national entity made up of successful young business people who get together frequently to share issues and insights. I was invited to speak to one of the Orlando Forums recently about the challenge of parenting. In this case spouses were included, which really added value and perspective to the discussion. In each couple, one parent admitted to being the analytical person in the family who was always ready to provide instant feedback to their child after a game, practice, recital, or performance whether the child was interested in hearing the news or not! I could easily identify with this behavior since I was often guilty of the same thing before my wife coached me up!
It was agreed that high-performing parents who have always been achievers in life tend to set the bar very high for their children, just like they do in the office for their employees. The difference is that performance pressure applied to our children causes them to live in an element of fear. The reason for this is a simple principle: the opinion your children value most is what they think you think of them. The fear of disappointing parents can actually inhibit the performance of a child. Think about it. don't we normally perform best when we are fearless and free from worry about what others think of us?
We agreed during our workshop, that we want our children to experience unconditional love in our families. We also agreed that if we apply performance pressure to our children it becomes easy for them to assume that love is given in direct proportion to performance achieved. We can set the example of hard work and self-discipline in our homes, and we can set the standard of everyone giving 100% of their effort to each endeavor. But at the end of the day our message must be one of total acceptance no matter how many times they struck out, missed a shot, or lost the game. We were designed to be their supporters, not their critics!