Lessons Learned From Cracker Barrel

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Now before I get into what I learned from Cracker Barrel as it relates to DadLife let me first start off by saying that other takeaways are…

  1. Pancakes are great
  2. It is possible to OVEREAT
  3. When visiting Cracker Barrel…sweat pants are your friend

Now back to DadLife. The last few times we’ve been there as a family, my son Ryan has insisted that he play checkers with me. He’s only 6 and already thinks he is the Checkers Grand Master. Up until our most recent visit I played the whole “I’m going to lose on purpose so that you’ll laugh and gloat over me all day about how you kicked my butt at checkers” game.

I would purposely move wrong, not jump him, and give him suggestions throughout the game that would make him win. It was fun and he got a kick out of it. He actually called me a “sucka” after our last bout.

But this time I tried something different. I stopped purposely trying to lose. I’m still not sure if it was because I wanted to teach him something or because I was so competitive that I just couldn’t take him beating me any more and wanted to show the lad a lesson or two. I won! I beat him! I let him take a few of my checkers occasionally but at the end of the day I WAS VICTORIOUS OVER MY 6 YEAR OLD! Regardless of my intentions what I learned as a result of our game helped me so much in understanding what losing really teaches us.

  • Learning to lose – at some point in our lives we all grew up and realized we WON’T and CAN’T win every time. If we constantly place our kids in a bubble then ultimately we’ll prepare them for a world that will be a stark contrast to what they believe is true. Letting him lose somewhat forced him to deal with emotions to see how failure and defeat would affect him. Everyone handles this differently. Some learn from failure while others run from it.[tweetthis]Some learn from failure while others run from it. #DadLife[/tweetthis]The sooner you can identify this in your children the better and then begin to shape their reaction based on how they handle failure.
  • Make a decision – As I plotted my next move toward total annihilation I noticed that he was so intent on his decision skills. When he would ask me what his next move should be, I would respond with “what do YOU think it is?” Some moves were good and some not so good. I have to remind myself that part of my responsibility is to prepare my children to eventually be adults. Where some of that happens naturally how much better of a chance would my children have in life if I intentionally tried to instill those decision making skills.
  • No distractions – One of the most challenging things for me to do when it comes to my kids, and really life itself is to PUT DOWN MY PHONE! For this brief moment, I turned off my phone where I knew it was just him and I. Mano e Mano dueling it out in the checker fight of the century. I remember how intent I was to notice every detail of the game along with his thought process, mannerisms, questions, and how he dealt with defeat. A lot of this, honestly, I might have missed if I had that little gadget with me. It’s something I think a lot of us can improve on.

So that’s my “this is what I learned playing checkers rant.” Let’s all try to be more intentional with our kids. How they win, lose, and all in between. They are looking for us as an example. One of my favorite quotes about intentional parenting comes from Clarence Budington Kelland:

“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it”

[tweetthis]“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it”[/tweetthis]

Go get em’! This is the #DadLife

– Marc “The Checkers Champ”

PS…we’d love to hear your comments.  Have you had similar experiences?  We learn from each other so fire away!

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