Profiles in Attitude: Effective Parenting Begins Here
James L. Casale
If you think parenting is a struggle, and mostly an uphill one, you are correct. However, you may need an attitude adjustment. There’s a reason that Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking sold five million copies. He was onto something so basic that all of us can identify with it: attitude not only matters; it’s the building block for the experiences that follow. Without it, parents have no starting point for their parenting journey. Hopefully, the following vignettes will inspire and encourage parents with the “I can do it” mindset.
You Must Believe in Yourself and Your Abilities
On September 11, 2014, a baseball thrown by Mike Fiers crashed into the left side of the batter’s face at 88 miles per hour, resulting in broken bones, smashed teeth, and unimaginable pain. How did the batter survive the physical and mental trauma, return to baseball the next season, and, in 2017, become the MVP and hit 59 home runs?
Other men hit by errant baseballs above the neck never returned to the “bigs,” and if they did, they were not the same players. But Giancarlo Stanton overcame his physical and mental injuries with exceptional resolve, courage, determination, and grit, all based on a foundation of believing in himself and his abilities. He had and still has attitude. He did make a minor adjustment to his batting helmet, which indicates lesson learned and good judgment.
Alvin Hall is probably unknown to you as one of the many thousands of thalidomide babies born with physical deformities. He was born without arms. This handicap did not deter him, because he still had a fully functioning brain and an ample supply of attitude. He did not grow up feeling sorry for himself. He charged ahead with the same determination and resolve that Giancarlo demonstrated and taught himself to play the drums and piano with his feet. He also became a motivational speaker.
Tom Dempsey, despite his physical handicaps, made history and was admired for what he had to overcome: a deformed right foot with no toes and a right hand with no fingers. He not only played in the NFL but was a star. On November 8, 1970, his 63-yard field goal as time expired won the game 19–17 for the New Orleans Saints over the Detroit Lions.
Have you ever heard about the Major League pitcher with no right hand? In 1986, he was presented with the United States Sports Academy’s Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias Award for his courage in overcoming adversity to excel in sports. A year later, he won the Golden Spikes Award for being the best amateur player in the United States. In 1992, he was presented with the Tony Conigliaro Award, given annually by the Boston Red Sox to a Major League player who has overcome obstacles and adversity through spirit, determination, and courage. I will unabashedly substitute the word “attitude” for the word “spirit.” Oh, by the way, James Anthony Abbot also pitched a no-hitter for the New York Yankees against the Cleveland Indians in 1993. Yes, he was a good fielder too. He believed in himself and his abilities. He exuded attitude.
Have you seen the movie The Darkest Hour? Have you read the book? Winston Churchill was a rock of self-confidence, determination, commitment, and courage in the face of possibly being destroyed by the Nazis. He listened to advice and his critics but didn’t waver from his position of not giving in to Hitler’s demands. He would not capitulate, and later, during WWII, his famous words would resound around the world: “Never, never, never, never give up” He didn’t. He won. Hitler lost.
J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected 140 times. You know the rest of the story. Taylor Swift had her mom drive her around to every country radio station in the English-speaking world so she could give the disc jockeys a copy of her homemade CD. You know the rest of that story too.
Effective parenting is not brain surgery; it’s harder. But you are not alone. Accurate information is available in a variety of forms: books, magazines, research studies, podcasts, experts, websites, and sometimes grandma and grandpa. You chose to have children; your children didn’t choose you. Raising lifelong learners and men and women of character and virtue within a family culture that emphasizes kindness, respect, self-control, responsibility, and humility is your sacred duty. And it requires a positive attitude.