Don’t Help Them Become Who You Were

Tim Hardaway Jr. is the son of an NBA Hall of Famer. Growing up, it was hard being the son of someone who had played the game at such a high level, particularly while trying to master the same sport himself.

In the car on the way home from games, Tim Sr. would highlight the mistakes Tim Jr. made, the shots he should have made, the plays he should have made. He’d say, “you’re not performing at a high enough level,” and, “get better, or we’ll stop you from playing the game of basketball forever.” If Tim Jr. didn’t want to watch basketball on TV, Tim Sr. would shake his head, “you don’t love the game enough.”

Tim Sr. would say that he put this pressure on his son because he loved him:

“I wanted him to play like I had played, to take the game seriously like I took the game seriously, understand the game like I understood the game.”

Sure, it “worked out” in the sense that Tim Hardaway Jr. is a great basketball player too…but is that because his dad said mean things to him? Or threatened him? Or could it have just as much to do with the fact that he’s 6’-5”, has a 6’-7” wingspan and played in college for John Beilein? And let’s say it hadn’t worked out or just worked out less well, don’t you think both father and son, in retrospect, would have taken that trade if it meant they had a better relationship?

As we’ve said, our job is to help our kids become who they are. It’s not to help them become who we were. It’s not their responsibility to carry on your legacy, to play the sport you played, to wear the number you wore.

You brought them into the world, but it’s theirs now. Let them do what they want to do, play the sports they want to play, take the game as seriously as they want. Support them, don’t threaten them. Love them, teach them, but don’t make them feel inferior or unwanted. Ever. Let them build their own legacy free of the burden of your expectations.

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