I’ve recently experienced a fatherhood milestone. Years ago when I was a child, I remember playing my Dad in a game of chess. It was an early game for me and I lost—boy was I crushed. It was a while before I wanted to play again. I wanted instant success—and if I couldn’t win, I didn’t want to play. .Didn’t he know that Dads are supposed to let their sons win??? Of course, immediately forgotten were all those times he really did let me win, made easier by the fact that I was convinced he didn’t “let” me win anything. I won solely on my prowess and cunning as player.
Fast forward to last week and in several days since, my son Gabriel has been getting into checkers. For the first time, I didn’t let him win. Oh, I was nice for the most part, but I didn’t lose. Maybe that’s my competitive ego (in fact, I’m sure there’s a lot to that), but also, he needs to learn that you often get better when you lose, because it makes you want to learn faster and play harder so it never happens again. Also, he needs to learn that he’s not going to automatically be the best at everything. That winning and doing well takes work and practice. I was never a great horn player b/c I hated practicing. If Gabriel wants to be great, he’ll need to work.
At this point though, how does a father balance those types of lessons with the fragile hearts of their children? After all, my son is still convinced he’s stronger than me, faster than me. I want him to have successes and enjoy playing the games, but how much of the “if I don’t win, I don’t want to play” attitude spills over into the rest of life? How will it effect his attitudes later. Could they contribute to a “me first, me only” kind of attitude? Is this false reality of always winning contributing to the self-centeredness of our whole society?
He played an older girl the other day. He won the first game, she won the next three. And he was OK with that. It’s not as OK coming from Daddy. What to do? How to balance?
How does this affect our walk with God? We sometimes think we’re winning or pulling one over on God, but He’s not fooled. Our prayers are often more of a list of wants, than prayers for our daily needs and the needs of others. When we don’t get our wants, we pout and instead of “I don’t want to play anymore” we say, “I don’t want to pray anymore” Just one letter separates those 2 statements—and yet we think they say so very different things. Do they really?