April 21, 2017

What to say to our Sons & Daughters when They Don’t Win.

As parents, it has happened to all of us.

Our sons or our daughters have a dream that they want to come true.

They go out for soccer, or for baseball, or for track. They see themselves alongside the yelling crowd, the cheerleaders cheering. They feel the elation and the sense of accomplishment. They want to experience winning.

Our hearts ache for them. We so want them to try their wings.

“Go for it,” we say. “Reach for the stars.”

We drive them to practice, and we play ball with them on the weekends.

“Daddy’s waiting for you outside to shoot hoops.”

My own daughters tried out for so many things: softball, swim team, cheerleading.

The first time it happens is the worst. That first time they don’t make the team—or they do make the team, but the other guys win. Or, they run as hard as they can but they don’t cross the finish line first. Or, they swing and strike out, time after time.

“We don’t think your son is big enough to play with the team this year. We think you should hold him back.”

I can still remember the heartache I felt as I saw my children so downhearted, so disappointed, so close and yet so far from their heart’s desire.

I can still remember how hard they tried to not let it show, and how much I’d wished I had just the right words to say—not only to them, but to myself as well.

My children are entirely grown now, with children of their own—and today, all these decades later, I’ve finally found those just right words.

They are words written by a mom for her son, but they reflect the lessons we all learn—moms, and dads, and children—despite our dreams not coming true.

I share them, not only for all of us who need them now, but for everyone—because, eventually, we all will.

For as long as there are dreams to dream, there will be lessons to be learned by not having them come true.



“Tonight was the night he learned that running your best doesn’t always mean winning.

Tonight was the night the value of teamanship proved more important than the quality of showmanship.

Tonight was the night he learned that leadership requires sacrifice…

That encouragement, support, and humility are far more important than man’s applause…

That crossing the finish line is more important than finishing as the fastest or the strongest.

Tonight he learned a lot.

But most importantly, tonight he learned that while running your best doesn’t always mean winning…

Winning means running your best.”

~ Lori Hancock McCurdy



Author: Carmelene Siani
Image: Flickr/Anthony KellyLori Mack Photography, used with permission.
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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Lana Hancock Stevens Apr 21, 2017 11:07pm

Great words.

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Carmelene Siani

Carmelene is a 77-year-old freelance writer who has been published at Elephant Journal, Better after 50, Huffington Post, The Reader, and Broad Magazine among others. Her stories are personal narratives on grief, family, food, and late-life love. Her aim is to help others see the ways that life is constantly opening to reveal its own lessons. She lives by the dictum of Muriel Rukeyser that “the universe is made of stories, not atoms.”

Follow her on Facebook, on her blog and at Twitter.