The Car Ride Home Part 4: Attitude

The car ride home is an experience that helps define a parent / child relationship. Here are six topics that have helped me improve myself, understand my son better and allowed him to challenge himself to be the best athlete he can be. This is your fourth ride sitting in the backseat of my car listening in on our relationship. And if you’re wondering… yes, he did agree to everything written.


Part 4) At the very least expect THIS from your child.

Theoretically, as parents, we have an unfair advantage of instilling our will and discipline on our kids. Most of us would have no chance if we had to sell our will and discipline to them like one businessperson to another. That salesperson really must work to sell their idea or product.

A parent can use their authoritative position to demand the sale and most of the time it’s reluctantly bought—I mean enforced.

I’ve tried to enforce my will and my view about my son’s baseball on him many times. The more I tried to assist—I mean enforce—the more he would resist. By the age of nine he knew, and I knew, that he knew much more than I did. He said to me at the age of twelve, “Dad, your job is now to help me with my mind.”

One thing we both agreed upon was one’s attitude towards playing the game. It is easy to tell on the baseball diamond— or any sporting field—what a kid’s attitude is like by what she or he did: were they running on and off the field? Were they watching the coach when they talked to him or her? Did they even listen to the coach?

There were always obvious actions one observed if a young athlete had a good attitude.

In baseball, a simple measure of attitude is how fast a batter runs to first base. If a batter hits a ball and is guaranteed to reach first base, do they blast off the blocks hoping to gain that extra base? Or do they run at 75% with no consideration of getting onto second base?

Imagine a batter hits the ball into what looks like an automatic ground out or pop fly. The batter doesn’t run at full speed to first base he or she considers themselves a given out. The observers are judging the player’s attitude by his or her speed.

Coaches generally want their players to hustle on and off the field. Look interested. Look alive. Look like you want to be there. Look like you’re a ball player that cares, Again, this is where a young player’s attitude is judged.

Coaches love a great attitude even more than a pretentious skill.

Yes, skill can be obvious, but skill with a poor attitude is obnoxious.

A lack of skill, or some bad luck out on the field, can’t be helped, but a good attitude will always give hope for a better outcome.

One thing is never accepted between my son and I: poor attitude. Whatever team he is on, whoever his teammates are, whatever level he is playing at no matter if his personal form is down, a good attitude is expected. This is the one thing that he excels in. Whether he makes it to the top or not, a good attitude will help him be successful in whatever he does in life.

If you’re ever going to expect anything from your child, if you’re ever going to have those challenging conversations, make it about attitude. Attitude can be measured and seen. You can’t enforce it but you can expect it.

Mark Maguire

(You can contact me at if you would like to discuss your experience or dilemma. I’m always open to learning something new and I’m always open to giving time and thought to help)

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