photo of a soccer team posing in front of fall trees with the sun setting behind them

Failing in Front of the Kids

I played soccer for the first time in over 30 years on Monday. It was exactly the situation I try to avoid. Marilee’s team had a parent/child game, and I punted the responsibility of attending to Peter. He likes soccer. He coached it in college. It would be a good father/daughter bonding activity.

But then Peter threw his back out, and Marilee asked if I could play. In the past, I would have said a hard no for all the obvious reasons. I might injure myself. I might embarrass myself. Or her. Still, the real reason I wouldn’t have played is because I am afraid of trying things that I don’t know I will be good at. 

Failing in Front of the Kids

And if there is anything I want to model to our kids, it is that it is safe to take healthy risks. I want them to know that trying something and not being amazing can be great. I also want to learn this for myself—that doing everything well all the time is an impossible standard that I don’t want to even try to achieve. Doing something at a less-than-excellent level is a gift to my kids, and to me. 

So I suited up in my sneakers and many layers and headed out to the field. I was utterly intimidated by my initial teammates—eight men and two women who all seemed to know what they were doing. But I did it—I kicked the ball. Sometimes it even went where I wanted it to. I took a throw-in. I sprinted up the field. I laughed with Marilee. 

In the end, this wasn’t just a life lesson about loving my daughter well or trying new things. It was also a reminder that there can be great joy in playing, even when there is no excellence involved. Yes, I learned that I can push myself beyond my comfort zone. And yes I modeled healthy risk-taking. I also had a lot of fun.

More with Amy Julia:

S7 E6 | How to Become a Worry-Free Parent with Sissy Goff, LPC-MHSP
The Dignity of Risk
I want my kids to be healthy not safe

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