“It’s just so frustrating to see people CHEAT and win. It’s like NOBODY CARES that they are cheating!!” This is the way the conversation with my son began this afternoon after his flag football game.
How do you tell a child he cannot cheat and harm others when he consistently watches other kids (and, sadly, parents) do just that and get away with it…even profit from it? There is no easy answer but I turned the discussion with this statement. “Yes, they cheated and won. They will cheat and win again and again. What exactly does that take from you?”
The answer is “nothing,” they took nothing. They won a flag football game. That’s life. Some people truly believe that the way to the top is stepping on others. Often it works – but at what cost. If we don’t teach our children to respect rules in a flag football game, how do we reprimand them for being disrespectful elsewhere? If we don’t help our young men and women learn about boundaries, limits and (again) respect, how will they act when it really matters?
My parents taught me boundaries and limits. I could toe the line just so far with my attitude and then there were consequences. Trouble at school meant trouble at home as well. I was expected to get good grades because I could, my parents didn’t pay me. I was expected to respect myself and the law and when I didn’t, there were consequences. I teach my children the same boundaries and because the times are so different now – many more.
I have very easy rules for my kids:
1. Dont hurt others with your words or “hands”
2. Don’t cheat – it takes the value out of winning
3. Don’t take things from others without asking – respect property
4. Be respectful to others – Adults, children…everyone.
5. Be happy with what you have, how you are right now, today.
6. Have faith. You are not the master of the world and neither am I. God is great, get to know him.
7. Do your best.
I’m sure I am leaving out one or two important items but, you get the point. Before you get offended or offer up examples of how my kids have broken these rules, take a breath. I know they have – EVERY SINGLE ONE and they aren’t even in their teens yet (13 doesn’t count). The point here is that they know there are consequences and I enforce these rules.
Going back to this morning’s conversation with my son, we talked about expectations, disrespect, fairness, and God. In the end I told my son “I know it stinks that they won. It makes my gut turn and my blood boil but at the same time I’m proud of you and your team. Your team didn’t cheat and your coaches didn’t cheat. You are good boys and you can hold your head high knowing you did the right thing. I am proud of you and God is proud of you.”
On a side note my prayer this evening will include the following: “Thank you, Dear Lord, for the lesson we have learned today. I ask your forgiveness for the thoughts of revenge and anger I had toward others today. I also ask that you please bless the other team, Dear Lord, bless them good and hard. Amen”