Work together…

Question: I have a 15-year old son that is VERY BLESSED to be athletically talented and academically talented.  He’s one of those kids that is loved by everyone for his kind, easy going nature.  Because things come easily, he doesn’t have to work at anything.  

Our specific problem  is that my son is playing competitive basketball in high school.  He is starting player on the JV squad, gets a lot of playing time but really doesn’t “hustle” or put effort into it.  His high school coaches tell us that he has the ability to play competitively in college.

The lack of effort and living up to his potential is driving my husband nuts, thus putting a lot of strain in the family.  

As the mom, I feel we can/should express our disappointment in his lack of effort and remind him that he gets out what he puts in (as does his team).  I feel that control over his destiny in basketball is in his own hands and that he will learn when he loses his starting spot or gets negative feedback from his coaches.

My husband is very competitive, type A person who gives 100% in everything and who is very analytical.  He has trouble expresses his analytical review of my son’s play in a kind manner – always coming across as judgemental or harsh.  I try to help my son by suggesting that he try to see the message (which is usually good) separate from the delivery of the message (which is often very negative).

As you can see, my husband and I have very different ways of delivering a message (We are exploring seeing a counselor to help us get on the same page)  I hope that you might have some practical tips on how my husband and I can find a unified approach to the issue and find a way to motivate our son in a positive way to live up to his potential.  Any thoughts you could give would be appreciated.

Answer: Barbara,
It is great you have a son that is so successful. The down side of that is that when things come easy to people they often get lazy. I have worked with a family that had a dad that was of the type A personality. The son pretty much didn’t like his dad, but would never say it to his face. Thus, a passive aggressive attitude came into being. So if you look at your sons behavior on the court it is a great way to make dad angry without really getting into his face. You stance on the issue is probably the most appropriate. You are not raising a baby hopefully. So it seems that he should be left on his own to experience what happens when he CHOOSES to be lazy and less than committed. If your son is successful generally, this one area in his life does not color the whole of his life. If your husband can’t get past that it will mark his relationship with his son in a very negative way. You son will not want to be in any type of relationship with his father all because dad couldn’t realize that his son is not him and then act upon that.  I imagine this isn’t the first area you and your husband have had challenges. I would encourage you to seek a competent therapist to help out with your relationship challenges.

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