In order to bring this story to a close, I need to provide two incidents that preceded my daughter’s request to do arms with me. The first incident had taken two days prior to her swimming lesson.
My daughter has an obsession with defining her derriere. So much in fact that she agonizes over its lack of development, and is disheartened by the extra layers of cellulite in her thighs and buttocks. Since she was having difficulties with body weight, and goblet squats, I elected to teach her to do them properly on the Smith Machine.
This proved to be an effort in sheer futility. I could not get her to overcome the fear of falling backwards as she performed chair squats. I have a very simple rule when I train my daughter. The moment she stops listening, then in essence she is stating that she knows more than me, so I stopped teaching, which is precisely what happened on that particular day.
The second incident occurred on the day of her swimming lesson. I already stated what transpired that morning, and will not repeat it here. What I neglected to mention was the full interaction between my wife and daughter.
My daughter was in our bedroom showing off her bathing suit. I could definitely see the progress she had made, but my wife being a former gymnast . . .
“I told her already,” she said, sternly. “I am not impressed.”
“You have to admit though; she has come a long way.”
“Yes, she has,” my wife agreed, “but where is the muscles. I don’t see any muscles.”
“All in due time. I’m happy that she is shedding the weight.”
I didn’t know then, but my daughter was hurt by my wife’s criticism.
“She’s my mother. Why would she say those things to her child?”
“Your mother has always been a straight shooter,” I said. “Besides, we are always hurt by the ones we love the most.”
“It’s not right,” my daughter said, trying her best to fight back tears.
“My mother was the same way,” I told her. “You can choose to go through life always needing the approval of others, or become self-contained that you become your harshest critic.
“No one can criticize or be harder on you than yourself. You can choose to wallow in self-pity because of your mother’s challenge or use it as motivation, to obliterate your goals.”
We drove to the gym in silence, which brings me to the juncture, when she interrupted me in the gym, under the guise of wanting to do arms with me.
However, the real reason for the intrusion, she needed my assistance in helping her with chair squats. We both learned a very valuable lesson that day. My daughter, learned and completed three sets of ten, chair squats.
As for me, I learned that I should not try force my daughter to overcome her fear of doing something, but to give her time, to work it out herself. I was very proud of her that day.
In retrospect that was the turning point of her training. I marvel at the progress she’s made, as she is now able to do trap bar deadlifts, goblet squats, et al.
The dumbest thing we can do as a parent, and I am speaking from experience, is to force a child to do something when they are not ready. They come to hate whatever it is, and then we lose any hope of getting the child, to ever try it again.
I teach, coach and lead, but more importantly now, I listen. It’s amazing what one hears, when he or she allows their child to speak.