Clayton Kershaw Throws Heat : Parenting Challenges

Ok, the Dodgers have clinched their division.  But this Dodger fan didn’t do quite as well with his parenting.  One from the archives.


If you’ve been following my blog, you know KD and I have been banging heads these days.  Not all the time, but enough that it’s wearing on me.  Lots of factors are involved, and I know I’m a big part of the problem. I’m the adult and I should act like one, but it gets tough to hear that I’m mean, an awful parent, and a bad dad when things happen that he doesn’t like. (Sure, I have “Bad Dad Days,” but he wasn’t referencing times like last weekend when, left to our own devices, we skipped breakfast and had potato chips and fruit for brunch.)

Handling Those Pitches

Clayton Kershaw Throws Heat : Parenting ChallengesIn a somewhat desperate attempt to make a bold move in a positive direction, I recently asked KD if he would get in trouble if he spoke to his teacher “Miss C” that way. He told me he would, but it’s different because, “she’s not my dad.” He gets a different teacher in a couple of years, but he’s stuck with me.

Crap, where did that come from? He’s only eight. Did he hear my wife or me say something along these lines? Or did he come up with it on his own? Regardless, it was dead-on and shut me down mid-sentence. Seizing the opportunity, he bolted to his room, where he practiced Clayton Kershaw’s pitching motion.

As the therapist/dad who ALWAYS thinks about the interactions I have with KD, I felt somewhat annoyed to be “home-schooled” by an eight-year-old. But I also took some satisfaction in knowing that he wouldn’t have thrown his best pitch if he thought I would charge the mound.

And that’s the challenge, no matter what their age is, our kids throw their best pitches at us. When they do, they’re trying to get a sense of what’s ok in the “real world” and what’s not. Our job is to observe their dress rehearsals and give them thumbs-up or thumbs-down for what they do and say, so that when they leave the jungle and are out on their own they have a sense of what’s ok and what’s not.

Sometimes it’s easy to give our kids clear direction but other times the parenting challenges are no so simple.  “No Johnnie, it isn’t ok to put half of your glue in your sister’s hair and eat the rest.” Or, “Sandra, when you find a wallet with $100 in it at the mall, you can’t toss the wallet in the trash and buy a round of espresso for everyone in Starbucks. You need to turn it in.”

Parenting Struggles

Other times, it’s easy to get stuck in the weeds of what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s gray. It’s midnight and your son’s project for the science fair is due the next morning at 8 a.m. Sure, he should have done it weeks ago, but crunch time is crunch time. You know it’s wrong, but if he’s threatening to hold his eyes open with razor blades, is it time to take over?   As you lean toward “yes” memories of amazingly sophisticated projects that his classmates’ parents had to have done, seal the deal. As Sean passes out, you push him aside and knock the damn project out of the park.

Therein lies my struggle. The majority of my parenting decisions are clear, and I treat them as such. Unfortunately, many others are gray. It’s, “yes except when it’s not” and “no except when it is.”  KD picks up on this and uses it to his advantage. This mess leaves me really po’ed. Not at him. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do. He’s just trying to figure out what’s ok and what’s not. He’s still the amazing, sweet, kind, generous, and funny little creature he has always been. Instead, I’ve got to point the finger at me. As challenging as it is, I must struggle to be clearer. And it will be a struggle.  But it’s my job, and KD deserves the best I have.


2 Responses to Clayton Kershaw Throws Heat : Parenting Challenges
  1. elizabeth
    September 27, 2016 | 8:19 am

    Well at least he is not having temper tantrums, as a grandmother I know had as a child, where the child lies down on the floor and screams and kicks.

    You might give him positive reinforcement when he is being polite and tell him how happy it makes you when he speaks nicely to you. On the other hand that’s how children are…….

    I know a grandmother also who used to tell her mother on a regular basis that she hated her…..

  2. Y.p.
    October 3, 2016 | 8:20 am

    I really like the reminder about how kids are processing as they mature – figuring out what is ok and what is not. Oh and it seems like so often we have the murky gray area or just situations that are layered!
    We also do not take things personal because our children are developing entities who often distance themselves from the very stabilizing force that anchors them – is this the mound you refer to?
    Once heard someone say that when their teen said rude things- they mentally clarified the scene by remembering that there was so much healthy stuff going on-and mess is part of it – the kid was doing identity stuff – with a. If of other development, pain, fear, and even stress ! And I think even tho we are still human and we might react at times – when we keep getting up to bat – o matter the foul count – our love softens the child – when we pursue and never give up – when we remind them that they are a priorIty for us and that we want to problem solve with them – little things like that help us understand more and can assuage much! Maybe sometimes we even talk about how we are all trying to figure out the game of life a bit more – when to bunt and maybe when to not try and run extra – oh I dunno – but posts like this remind us all that we learn so much about parenting as we move along in real time and thanks Steve.

    Also, I wanted to say a quick thanks for one of your other points from another article a while back.
    When u mentioned “waiting” to talk to teens about certain things that happen.
    This was a big help – I have since learned that sometimes we do the immediate addressing of an issue – but other times a couple of days of sweet percolating – –
    And processing –
    Can really do wonders!
    Thanks for your site!

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