With Wimbledon wrapping up, it got me to thinking, while I was chillin’ on the couch with my son watching Serena dominate her sister, we have something in common. I serve up parenting aces like a tennis pro every day.
Respect Your Opponent
When you step onto that court with your child remember, they want to obliterate you. So you must remind them, you are not their equal. You are the #1 ranked player in the world and if you respect them and play smart, you’ll teach them a thing or two, making them think twice before taking you on, and say what an honor it was just to be in your presence.
Accept There Will Be a Constant Back and Forth
Remember, this is not a game, this is a match. A match of will, a match of determination, but ultimately a match of technique and skill. You can lose a game, hell you can even lose a set, but you sure as shit better not lose the match. There will be a back and forth but if you can finish the volley with an uncontested overhand slam, you’ll be the victor.
Do Your Best at Never Crossing the Line
Like tennis you need to make sure you never cross the line because giving them that inch can mean the difference between a win and a loss. Like the saying goes, “it’s not what you say but how you say it.” You may have all the correct information, you may even be 100% in the right, but if you relay it in way that makes them upset, you’ve lost the match.
If You Want The “W”, You Must Stay in Control
If you look at most of the top tennis players’ score sheets you’ll see that they typically win quite handedly. Even when they looked like they were giving their opponent a come back, they’re usually trained to keep their cool and ultimately the score typically shows they were always in control.
The same should be said about us as parents. When we get into a disagreement with our kids, we need to keep our cool and stay in control of what’s in front of us. Don’t let their technique get you flustered and always remember that ultimately, you are the top player on that court.
Sometimes Screaming Just Feels Better
In tennis, screaming (also known as shrieking or grunting) while hitting the ball is highly controversial and frowned upon and the louder it is the more it’s looked at as a negative tactic, even cheating. Sure it may give you a boost but how is it making the other person feel. See this Wiki page for more details.
The same goes for being the parent in a hotly contested debate. Screaming may feel better but ultimately anything you say is going to get lost and your child isn’t going to respond in the long term the way you would probably want them to. If you feel yourself losing control and getting louder, take a bathroom break and think of it like a sports timeout. Players need a moment to collect themselves so they can get back to what they were doing so well while keeping the momentum in their favor.
In tennis, the match always starts out zero to zero, which in tennis terms is love. And we as parents need to remember, no matter what, our views and differences that we discuss with our children always need to start from the same place…love.