To Win or Not To Win?
As we sat at breakfast this morning, I was met with a challenge from the lady across the table. She said, “Do you want to play me in Tic Tac Toe?” It was early and my brain had not warmed up yet, but I was up for the challenge. We jumped right in with our exchanges of x’s and o’s. We had a few draws but ultimately I was winning.
I noticed the strange response of my opponent. The more I would win, the sadder and frustrated she would become. I was convinced that if I would win again, she would quit. I wondered if this was a teaching moment? Here were my options. If I win, she quits. If she quits now, I allow her to become a sore loser. Maybe I should let her win? When she wins, she smiles.
I thought about the dangers in just letting her win. I want to share these with you. I have to tell you that my opponent is my eight year old daughter, but this is more than just a casual game of Tic Tac Toe at breakfast. This is a teaching moment/competition and it feels like it’s for all the marbles plus bragging rights. If I don’t look her in the eyes, I have a chance. I see why poker players wear sunglasses. Nevertheless, here are my observations.
Firstly, If I let her win, she enjoys the great feeling of victory, but the battle was a hoax. It’s the heavy weight fight that the opponent intentionally takes the dive from a weak punch. It’s the victory without the sweat, blood, and tears. How can she truly enjoy the win that she has not battled for?
Secondly, if she takes home the win, she will somehow believe that the effort she just exerted was sufficient to achieve the success. The next challenge will pose a problem. When she faces the next opponent, the best she will muster up is a repeat performance because that’s what worked last time. This could ultimately crush her when she receives the LOSS. It could very well devastate her to the place that she never wants to play again. What if she loses her confidence in herself and becomes unsure?
I came to the conclusion that it would be better to beat her fair and square. If I annihilate her, hopefully it will challenge her to work harder and smarter the next time to win.
Maybe I will teach her a few tricks of the trade along the way. I think it’s my duty to continue the undefeated reign of Fatherhood. The first rule of Fatherhood is to WIN at all cost. This may mean I have to knock the board off the table or sacrifice the glass of orange juice for the cause, but that’s another conversation.
Sheltering your child from tough times might just make them unprepared to handle life on their own.