Choices for our Children
We all want empowered children, they become more successful adults. We know we can help them to become empowered if we give them choices, but we have to give them the right choices and empower them with how we deliver those choices.
But the choices aren’t, “What do you want for dinner?” letting them dictate a plate full of carbs or a visit to drive-thru fast food. Instead, the choice is “Do you want broccoli or green beans with your chicken and potatoes?” A healthy diet is not a bargaining tool.
The choice isn’t, “What time to you want to go to bed?” Instead the choice is, “Do you want me to tell you a story for bedtime tonight or read one of your favorite books to you?” Bedtime is not negotiable.
The choice isn’t, “What do you want to do today?” Instead the choice is, “Do you want to ride bikes at the preserve, skate at Riverwalk or go to the beach today?” Outside is mandatory, screen time is a reward for an active lifestyle.
The choice isn’t, “Do you want to learn to swim, cook, sew, change a tire, do laundry, drive a car safely, balance a checkbook, design and follow a budget, behave professionally, learn CPR and first aid, learn to be disciplined, respectful, focused, how to have confidence, have great manners, be patient and compassionate, learn to fish, learn that drugs and alcohol can ruin your life, learn to defend yourself.” Instead these are mandatory, what order they want to learn them in can be their choice.
As parents, my wife and I gave our children choices on activities that were done strictly to entertain or strengthen, like sports. Martial arts is not one of those. You “play” soccer, baseball, football, basketball, golf, tennis, etc. You “Learn” martial arts. Big difference. Every sport my kids did was improved by their martial arts training too.
Every now and then I get a parent that says, “I know he needs this, the discipline, the confidence, but he doesn’t want to do martial arts.” This makes me smile. My son found out one day that not everyone did martial arts and asked me if he had to do it. My response to both kids was, “We are Brown’s, decedent from a long line of warriors traced back to the Vikings. We are warriors, This is what we do.” You can use any response you like, but this was good enough for my kids. They never asked again, and they have never, not trained. Both are successful adults now, they attribute most of their success to their martial arts training. The fact of the matter is, they were children, I made the decision for them as is my responsibility and duty.
We live in Florida and everyone makes sure their kids know how to swim. Why? Because there is water everywhere and it’s an easy place to drown. In today’s world, in this country, 80% of women have an attempted rape and report it to the police. How many more women do you suppose never report it due to fear, or shame? Our sons too face a world of bullies and violence, and the odds are that they will need to defend themselves at some point as well. If they don’t know how, what do you suppose that will do to your child’s self esteem?
The suicide rate in North America is at a record high. Somewhere along the way, we failed our kids in giving them the coping skills to deal with life’s struggles. From the stress of learning a trade, getting an education, providing a good living, maintaining personal relationships, holding down a high stress career. We see high divorce rates, high levels of alcoholism, drug use and depression. Success in life is usually dictated by your perseverance and determination more than it is by your skill or your education. Martial Arts teaches those coping skills, the stress reducing skills, that determination and perseverance. I know nothing else that does this.
If your child says they don’t want to do martial arts, then you’ve given them the wrong choices. Do they want to do it before or after dinner? Do they want to do their homework before or after martial arts class? The choice you are giving them could cost them their life.
Our children need to learn to defend themselves, I’d venture to say, maybe even more than they need to learn to swim (but do both, I taught swimming in high school and was a lifeguard for many years). Martial arts training should not be a choice for our kids, any more than learning to swim is a choice.
Martial Arts is not just an amusing activity for kids. Every single day we see it change someone’s life. Nearly every day I have someone tell me how their fitness level from their training has saved or enhanced their life and increased their longevity. Every Black Belt I’ve ever promoted has written me or visited years later and professed it to be one of the most important things they ever did and they tell of how it set them up for success beyond anything else.
Why would you leave this decision to a child? Take it from me, a very biased but successful parent. Don’t miss this opportunity for your child. Ask any of the parents of our Black Belts, they will tell you the same thing.