Triathlon vs. Parenting: The Comparisons | Teaching Self-Government

Triathlon vs. Parenting: The Comparisons

Woman swimming

I often tell the story of when I did the swimming leg of a triathlon. The deep water swim taught me many valuable lessons about parenting and life. Here’s a few that are beneficial for us all to remember:

Don’t Get Pulled Down by Others

Sometimes the only choice we have in our parenting race is either to keep doing the same thing we’ve always done and accept failure and frustration or to change our stroke in hopes of maintaining our vision. We all have times when we feel like we’re being pulled down by other people around us. They may not even know we’re taking their comments so negatively.

We need to keep in mind that everyone is just trying to move forward. Some people are more aware of how people feel than others. Don’t take comments personally. The person giving them probably didn’t want to pull you down. Also, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks about how we’re parenting anyway. God is the revealer of truth. Follow his counsel and forget about everyone else.

If your children are pulling you down, you need to improve the government system in your home. Life can get crazy, but behaviors that pull the family down should never be tolerated. I’ve met many people who look like perfect parents. They probably weren’t, but they seemed that way to me at the time. There will be times when you’re moving slowly in your parenting race and it seems like everyone is passing you by.

As a person who likely gives people the impression from time to time that I’m flying past them, know this: every day is a new challenge for everyone. No one is excluded from challenges. The only way I’ve found to make my race more enjoyable is to focus on principles instead of drama. Focusing on drama doesn’t solve anything; but focusing on principles brings peace and clarity.

Pressure and Perfection

As I swam, my wetsuit put a lot of pressure on my chest, and it made me panic. I’m pretty sure I had a panic attack in the lake that day. It’s significant to note that I was the one who put on the wetsuit. I put the pressure on myself. As parents, we’re constantly putting pressure on ourselves. Some of this pressure is motivating, but lots of it (like comparing ourselves to others or making unreasonable lists of things to accomplish) only creates anxiety and stress. We can easily burn out and have panic attacks if we don’t take time to calm down.

There was a point in my race where there weren’t any other swimmers around me. That’s when I found my swimming rhythm. From this I learned that if my home rhythm doesn’t feel like I want it to, I probably need to pull back from worldly things and be alone with my family, away from other swimmers until I find my rhythm. We often make ourselves too busy.

I started taking in waves as swimmers passed me, and I felt like I was almost drowning. Don’t try to be like someone else or you will drown. God gave you the perfect personality to lead your children to their greatness. Ask yourself, "What gift was I specifically given to inspire change in my children?" Parent the way your family needs you to. Consciously choose your schedule and family moments so that they support your vision for your family.

Training for Success

We accomplish what we train for. I trained for my swim to take me exactly 23 minutes, and that’s how long it actually took. This applies to our visions for our families. Whatever we prepare for in our families will most likely happen even though the long, hard journey may make us think that we won’t reach our goal. As long as we keep focusing on solid principles, our families will make it to our goals. The author James Allen said, “As a man thinketh, so he is.”

Success in life is finding out what God wants us to do and then doing it. This applies to parenting and everything else. After swimming the deep water of life, I know that my loving Heavenly Father will be there to tell me, “You did the hardest part. You did what no one else wanted to do, and I love you for it.” This approval is all that really matters.

The triathlon was difficult, but so worth it. It’s the same with parenting. Although there’s challenges along the way, we can stick to our vision and trust in God, and it will always be worth it.