If life were like the movies, every child would grow up in loving, two-parent homes with 1.5 siblings and a dog. Unfortunately, real life is grim for many children and is plagued by divorce, illness, prematures death, and other factors that could prove debilitating for such young, developing minds.
The events of childhood can have a direct effect on how a person raises his children and treats his wife. Confidence, work ethic, values and beliefs are all shaped by the home environment of one’s youth.
Even as I look back over my life in ten-year phases, I am aware of the people, places and things that contributed to how I perceive life, love, work and spirituality. Every ten-years equates to a decade filled with physical, mental and emotional changes that shape who you are today. You could have been skinny when you were nine but by the time you turned 19 your body had filled out with bulky muscle. Or, you might have had a full head of hair at twenty-seven but thirty seven finds you completely bald.
All change, not just physical, is inevitable. We don’t have to like it. We just have to live through it.
The first ten years of your life is influenced by your parents and extended family as well as the environment in which you are raised. The next ten is all about your peers from high school and college. I believe this is where you figure out who you are, what kind of people you can deal with and who you want to become in life.
Through these changes your family relationships can become stronger because of a strong foundation. Or these relationships can be weakened because the adults in your family have a hard time accepting that you have become an adult. Sometimes it is hard to cut the apron strings and allow a child to be his own person. But, everything you have learned over the first two decades of your life defines you and is used at work, home and in your social life.
I have a few friends who were raised in two-parent homes and a few others who were raised in single-parent homes. The dynamic of these types of families are vastly different. From my experience and observation, children from two-family homes are often more mentally balanced and have more self-esteem when taking on new challenges. However, those children raised in single-parent environments are often not as mentally balance and seek acceptance and praise from others more eagerly than those raised in two-parent homes.
While having a step-parent can place a child in a two-parent home, it is difficult to blend families without collateral damage. Often, step-children suffer during this process. The dynamic changes even more when a child from the union of the step-parent and biological parent arrives.
Life for Young Adults and Student Athletes
I bring this up because I work with young adults every day who are going through the motions—even laughing and talking with their peers. Often, there is something just below the surface, memories from the past, hurting them.
For many, their upbringing—their pasts—molds their attitudes to be a barrier to the world outside. If the people who are suppose to love you will hurt you, what will strangers do?
So many young adults are living a life in wonder, trying to figure out why their mom or dad was absent. Why didn’t anyone prevent them from being their stepfather’s punching bag or stepmother’s doormat?
How you participate in your child’s life will dictate who they become. How they perceive themselves and others. How they navigate the world around them. What will you do to ensure that your child is raised in a loving home? What will you do to ensure his or her confidence?
What about the fatherless and motherless sons and daughters who are now young adults trying to figure our their place in the world? How do you teach them how to thrive in spite of abandonment, abuse and neglect? How do you teach them that as adults they have control over their lives and actions? How do you teach them how to be happy?
These are questions I’m often asked by athletes and other young adults. As a coach I am a counselor, teacher, uncle and motivator. I have learned that you can’t judge a book by its cover. You must open the pages and learn so that you can truly understand.
I don’t have the answers to these questions but I am searching.