Friday, March 5th, 2021

R Shopper Columns


When our youngest son, Brian, was in elementary school, he became a member of a T-ball team. T-ball is played by putting the ball on a rubber pipe so the batter can hit it. There is no pitcher.

Most of the players on our team, including Brian, were inexperienced and were playing for the first time. We were going to play against some teams that were more experienced.

Our first game came.  It was fun watching our sons play. If the opponent got a hit, it was usually a homerun because our players didn't think the ball was theirs unless it came directly at them or because no one could throw him out. We lost 26 to 3.

I did not want to be one of those parents who ruins the game for their children by yelling or criticizing the players. Knowing Brian is competitive and thinking he might be upset about losing, I prepared a 'winning is not everything' talk for him. I planned to talk to him about how important it is to play well and enjoy the game.

The car door suddenly opened and Brian popped into the seat with a huge smile on his face.  Then he said something that amazed me: 'Boy, Dad, wasn't that fun?'  I couldn't believe it! Where was he during the game? Didn't he see how badly we lost? Didn't he see the score - 26 to 3?

Sometimes, we get concerned about
the wrong things, thereby missing
what is important.

 Halfway home, he said sadly, 'I wish I were on the other team.'  Now was the time to give my 'winning is not everything' talk!  If I say so myself, I thought I gave a convincing talk.  Brian sat patiently waiting until I had finished. Then he said, 'Well, I don't know what you are talking about.  I wish I were on the other team because they got cokes after the game and all we got was Kool Aid.'

Brian taught me a good lesson that day.  Sometimes, we get concerned about the wrong things, thereby missing what is important. Worrying about the score of the game, we miss the joy of playing. We may be so overly concerned about grades that we miss the joy of learning.

When it comes to disciplining our children, we may lose sight of what is truly important. While it is important to discipline and give appropriate punishment we need to keep in front of us what we want the most for our children. We want them to feel good about themselves. Punishment and discipline need to be shaped by what we truly want for our children.

The challenge of this story is to ask ourselves, 'Am I giving a lot of time and energy to the less important issues in life and missing the more important ones? Am I worrying about the less important - making them more important than they need to be? Am I focusing on the wrong things thereby missing the truly important ones?'

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700