Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Category: For Parents Page 1 of 45

College Admissions, Sports, and How You Can’t Buy Your Kid’s Happiness

College Admissions, Sports, and How You Can’t Buy Your Kid’s Happiness

“Money can buy material things, but real happiness must be earned.”  Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1750

“Money, so they say, is the root of all evil today.” – Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, 1973

“Mo money, no problems.” – Notorious B.I.G., 1997

It’s a cliche for a reason, because it’s true. Money can do a lot of good things for people, but it can also cause a whole lot of big problems. It’s at the point that you start to think that money can buy you out of doing the hard work of life that problem comes in.

This can and often does become easily mixed up with parenting, because wealthy parents want to support their kids and protect them, just as all parents want to support and protect their kids. If you are in a place to provide a lot of monetary support for your children, you’d think it’s a good thing right? However it’s not always a good thing. Sometimes it can backfire badly.

Fencing is often a sport that is associated with higher social classes, going all the way back to its beginnings. It is considered a sport of kings after all. World class fencing teams are generally associated with elite universities like Duke and Harvard. Fencing equipment is expensive and traveling to competitions is expensive, so there has to be a certain amount of money involved to progress in the sport. The question is all about where we draw the line and how we create the most supportive experience for our fencers while still letting them stand on their own two feet.

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8 Signs You’re Coddling Your Fencer (And How To Stop)

8 Signs You’re Coddling Your FencerIn fencing, there are these two extremes that we often see in parenting. There are coddling parents and hard driving parents, and each is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Most of the parents that we see fall somewhere in-between, which is a good thing, but everyone can venture to one extreme or the other at times.

Coddling parents are thought of as those who pamper their fencers. They are highly concerned about feelings. They want to prevent their children from experiencing even the smallest hardship. They jump in-between fencers and their coaches, between fencers and their opponents, between fencers and themselves! They want their kids to win, but they want it to happen with as little discomfort as possible.

Hard driving parents are thought of as cold and ambitious. They are hard-nosed, and they care little about feelings. These are the “old school” fencing parents. Empathy for the opponent, for the coach, and indeed for their own fencer is not permitted. It’s about driving towards that victory. They want their kids to win, and it doesn’t matter how much discomfort happens along the way.

We tend to see more of the former in fencing, though hard driving parents definitely show up. There is a time and place for both. Let’s be clear about that – there are good reasons to coddle your fencer at times and to drive them hard at times. When child is physically injured, of course they need caring attention. When an emotional injury takes place, it’s not enough to tell them to “suck it up.” Coddling often moves well past these reasonable things though. It can become a way of life for parents. It comes out of a deep love for their child, but too much coddling hinders a young fencer’s ability to grow.

Too much of anything is not good. Letting your child become independent is challenging, and in fencing you’re letting them go with a sword!

Here eight signs you are coddling your fencer. If you’ve done one or two, then you might want to think about why those things happened. Three or four and you’re in danger of hindering their progress. If you’ve done more than five of the things on this list, then it’s time for change if you want your fencer to find independence!

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1 + 1 Does Not Equal 2 in Fencing

1 + 1 Does Not Equal 2 in Fencing:  Incremental Improvement in FencingThe distance from 0 to 1 is not the same as the distance from 1 to 2. At least, not in fencing.

It’s something that we’ve noticed when new fencers come in and start learning fencing, then competing. Initially, there’s this explosive growth. A fencer comes in to joining in Y10 and they are gangbusters right from the beginning. They start out with zero fencing and within just a year they progress to being a one – to being a fencer! This jump from zero to one seemingly happens overnight.

Then things stall out. They slow down, they become still. Or do they? In truth, that level of progress doesn’t keep going after that first year where parents see this massive change, but that does not by any means mean that growth has really stopped. Why does it seem to slow down so dramatically though? Why is it that one plus one doesn’t equal two in fencing?

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How Fencing is Preparing Our Kids for the Unknown Future

How Fencing is Preparing Our Kids for the Unknown Future65% of the school aged kids will work in a profession that doesn’t exist yet. That’s according to numbers from the United States Department of Labor. It’s an extraordinary number! How can parents possibly prepare their kids for things that we can’t possibly know?

This may sound like one of those questions that doesn’t have a good answer, but after a conversation with a fencing parent recently I realized that actually we know exactly how to prepare our kids for a future that we cannot possibly know. This mom had a clear idea of how she was going to shape her child to be able to face the unknown in the future, and as usual I found that I learned a lot from a fellow fencing parent.

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Quit Fencing Only When You’re Winning

Quit Fencing Only When You’re WinningFencing isn’t for everyone. We don’t assume that it is, and we don’t expect anyone to stay with it should they figure out that it’s not their thing. But how can you know that it’s not your thing? When is the right time to quit fencing? How do you know that you’re quitting for the right reasons?

There is a very simple answer to this: quit fencing only when you’re winning.

What? Isn’t the whole thing that if your child isn’t winning in fencing, then it’s time to let it go? NO! Not a all. If your child is losing in fencing, if they’re constantly struggling, then that’s the time to dig in and stick it out. It might not be that they don’t like fencing, it might be that they don’t like losing. Which is a fair thing to not like! (It’s a fair thing not to like fencing as well, we don’t judge.)

There are all kinds of reasons why it’s a bad idea to give up when you are knocked down, but the words of Rocky Balboa stick with me when I think about quitting when you’re losing.

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.“ – Rocky Balboa

If you quit while you’re behind, you’re robbing yourself of your ability to get back up again. That goes for letting your child quit when they’re behind too. This is a solid bit of wisdom that great fencing parents know, and it’s a bit of advice that we’ve seen in action right in our own club.  

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