RNCs = Hugs
I don’t do everything right. In fact, I may not even do half of everything right. But I like to think I'm a pretty decent father.
I have a 17 year-old son with whom I get along well. When I talk to other parents of teenagers, they complain that their kids don’t want to spend any time with them at all. One mom even told me that she couldn’t remember the last time her daughter hugged her.
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I, on the other hand, get plenty of hugs…especially if you count Rear Naked Chokes as a form of hugging.
Part of the reason I have a good relationship with my son is luck; we share the same personality type. We like the same kinds of music, we have the same warped sense of humor, and we have the same sense of what is and isn’t fun. (For instance, we both think that going into a padded room to simultaneously try and avoid being killed by friends is some of the best kind of fun around!)
But there’s another part of having a good relationship with your kid. That part involves treating them like human beings. This part goes beyond giving them the basic care and love that any human needs and deserves; it extends to taking their interests seriously.
Sometimes, that’s hard. When my son was 3 years-old and obsessed with the Disney-Pixar movie Cars, those were some difficult times. I don’t know how often I watched that movie, but it was a lot. And there are only so many million times you can have the same conversation about those cartoon cars before you want to bang your head on something sharp.
And, I’ll just admit, my son’s first violin recital was kinda sketchy. And, before that, his practice sessions leading up to that recital were hard on the ears.
But I sat through it all. I gave his interests my full attention. And it all paid off.
Because I treated his interests with respect and gave them my attention, my son now shares his interests with me willingly. Today, that’s why we train.
We had signed up for a month-long trial membership at the academy where we now train, but as the month ended, life got in the way. Then, it came the holidays with all of their obligations and expenses.
As much as we liked the classes, it seemed like Jiu Jitsu was one of those things destined to fall by the wayside. But, one day, after the holidays had passed, my son said to me, “I think we should go back to doing Jiu Jitsu.”
Just like when he was a kid, I decided to take his interest seriously. We talked about why we had stopped going before, and we talked about how we would commit to class so that we wouldn’t stop again.
Then, out of the blue, we showed up at the academy that next Monday. (They had probably written us off as two more drop-outs they’d never see again.) We signed up for full memberships, and we’ve attended regularly ever since.
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Sometimes, we cut up in class a little too much. Sometimes, we go too hard when we roll with each other. (That father/son dynamic makes for intense competition!) Sometimes, we talk out our frustrations with each other. Sometimes, we get to brag about our victories with each other.
But at the end of the day, there are two important things to remember. 1) my son helped to cement my commitment to Jiu Jitsu, and 2) he still gives me plenty of hugs—even, on occasion, the non-RNC kind.
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