Teaching little boys about losing and failure – Diary of a Baba
Posted on March 20, 2019
I’ve been on the road for the last couple weeks and have been sitting on this for a minute. The last couple months, Collin has grown up SO much. He has become more expressive and aware of his emotions. We’ve also started playing board games together and learning (together) how to win and lose. I’m still in awe of how relevant parenting has been in my day to day work and movement life.
We’ve been playing Candy Land with Collin. He was winning for weeks, if not months. And then came the day he finally lost. It crushed him. Like a lot.
“No more games!!” he screamed (with a pretty long meltdown).
First, we tried to explain that losing was normal. That didn’t really work. Then, we talked about how even his beloved superheroes have lost battles. Then, I just had to admit that I lose all the time! That worked a little better but still board games were off the table.
So one day out of the blue he asks, “Why are you a loser?” (someone who loses)
I didn’t really take it any kind of way but it made me think about how little boys are told that they must be “strong” and be “winners” and not show their emotions.
From superheroes to their peers, little boys are surrounded by this. Times have changed but not that much. Now it is not just male but also female characters that embody all this. Patriarchy is embedded in all facets of our society.
How do we shift these paradigms? How do I disrupt this as a new baba?
First, I acknowledge that I (and many other adults) still don’t know how to fail and/or lose. No one likes to lose! But I feel most loved when there is a culture of humility and rigor to do our very best.
Second, I model by being my whole self with all my contradiction, emotions and vulnerabilities, as much as possible. I acknowledge and apologize when I forget to listen to him. I ask for forgiveness when I make a mistake. Usually, a hug is all we need.
Third, I learn to fail and fail fast in all parts of my life. I’m still critical but rather than getting stuck, I’m constantly striving towards my vision and purpose. I practice and experiment until it becomes a habit. This tends to be the most difficult because I’ve spend decades of my life trying to be “perfect” by rejecting or suppressing my privileges. This is different than entering contradictions and leveraging my privilege. This takes incredible trust and love in myself.
Most importantly, I disrupt patriarchy by not doing it for Collin (or anyone else) but for my own transformation, as well.
“Most importantly, I disrupt patriarchy by not doing it for Collin (or anyone else) but for my own transformation, as well.”
Parenting has been the best mirror to reflect how I want to lead my life. I hope that one day Collin sees that I was humble, a good listener and purposeful. AND, I hope that he will embrace me in all my imperfections and flaws as I showed up for him as best I could.
After a few weeks, with the support of our awesome therapist, he’s back playing Candy Land and other games. He is still afraid of losing and that’s okay. He has still won most games but now when he loses, he still wants to play <3.