Game... Set... Parent!

Whether you're a tennis parent or not, the game, in and of itself, can provide some very useful clues as to how we might approach this "courtside commission."

Tennis players have to make multiple split-second decisions about where to place the ball, what move(s) to make next, and the manner in which shots are executed.

Likewise, parents are faced with multiple, daily impromptu decisions. A parent must quickly assess the need for discipline, prepare for an innumerable amount of future events, emotions and actions, and position a child's steps towards successful outcomes. Perhaps a few select tennis terms can help keep you focused while you're in the swing of things.

Serve It Up

Though not our opponents, children can be strategically savvy, so the first thing to remember in the game of "parentennis" is to hold your serve. And, serve, you must. It's not an option. If only one person serves, then nobody wins. Never stop serving because it's what we're called to do. And, guess what? If you mess up your first serve, you get a 2nd chance in tennis, and thankfully, parenting is filled with "second chances" (and thirds, and fourths, etc.). If you find that even your second serves aren't quite making it over the net and you accidentally hit some double faults one day, that's okay. Move on and focus on the next point. 

Have a Ball and Make Some Racquet
Don't just sit on the sidelines and let your children's lives pass you by. Get out on the court of life and have a ball with them. Play some games. Get silly. Let them braid your hair into horrifying, Dali-esque creations. And, make some racquet with them! Turn on the music and dance until you laugh so hard that you fall in the floor and make carpet angels. Just be prepared for an impromptu dog pile!

©2013 Ruth Fix

Love All... 
Before play even begins in tennis, the score is called... LOVE ALL! But, obviously, that's not where it ends. We don't just go over and sit down on the bench at this point or pick up our bags and agree to meet at the nearest Starbucks. The game has to be played, then the set, then finally the match. In real life, that's minutes,hours, and days on end. Yet, every day we start over with the same beginning score... LOVE ALL! The Bible puts it this way in Lamentations 3: "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness." Just as He is merciful and faithful to us parents each day, so we must also show mercy and remain faithful to our children. No matter what the score ends up being at the end of the day, the end result is that we can all start over the next day with LOVE ALL.

Finally, as with most sports, tennis is mentally challenging. You must decide, before you start, whether you want to "win" or "give in." The former choice requires a positive attitude and discernment. Don't let the opponent (i.e. the father of lies) take your mind in a direction of failure. Recognize when you're not focused on winning and immediately take charge of the situation. Get back in the game. Reset the point. In real life, this may look like stopping in the middle of a tiresome homeschool day and telling your kids you're going to pray together, read your devotional together (because you forgot first thing this morning) or claim a verse for peace and victory because of your Savior's ultimate victory over sin and death.

Dear parent, the ball's in your court, so swing away! And, at the end of your on-court parenting years, one can only hope that your child(ren) will come to you, shake your hand, hug your neck, and exclaim, "Good match, [Mom and/or Dad]. Good match!"