Finding Hope When Parenting Becomes Difficult

Swim Parents

“Sometimes the kids just become a master of hiding what they’re going through. They want everyone to think they’re still perfect, but we want them to be safe enough to admit they’re not. So we want to strengthen the adults so that they can do so.” –Melissa Dayton

Swim Parents

Chip & Melissa Dayton

Today our guest on the SwimBrain podcast is Melissa Dayton, author of the book “Crushed: When Parenting Is Hard.” I reached to Melissa because I thought that she would be able to share some insight and encouragement to all of our SwimBrain Parents. I was right.

But that’s not the main reason I invited her. My not so secret agenda is for us to begin approaching our sport from a much more holistic perspective and to make all of our efforts more swimmer-focused. Talking to people like Melissa is great because it remind us that though it’s easy to, we shouldn’t lose focus of the bigger picture. 

I hope that you enjoy our conversation. Personally, I found it refreshing to shift from the typical perspective of sports psychology and sports science and have a conversation that is very practical for parents all around the globe.

Conversation Timeline

  • How a suicide cluster inspired a movement (2:52)
  • The story of Melissa’s 8 children (9:08)
  • The parenting rollercoaster and raising children with different needs (10:24)
  • Finding time to pause and why a busy family doesn’t always equal success (13:23)
  • The side effects pushing our kids towards this one definition of success (15:56)
  • Recognizing the pressure we inadvertently place on young athletes (20:02)
  • Finding the balance between mediocrity and excellence throughout the experience (23:02)
  • How to avoid parenting teens out fear (28:09)
  • Types of parents: helicopter, mower and zamboni (29:37)
  • Dealing with guilt after a teenager screws up  (32:55)
  • Extending forgiveness in the face of repeat offenses (37:08)
  • True or False: Parenting becomes easier as children get older (44:18)
  • True or False: trying to control a child means they are less likely to go wrong (44:58)
  • True or False: Is it good to compare your family to others and learn from them (45:40)
  • True or False: Allowing risky behavior at home decreases chances for risky behavior elsewhere (48:28)
  • The genius of having small rules for teenagers to rebel against (49:50)


Favorite Quotes

  • “We have to be really careful because our kids perception is: you only value me if I’m successful at this. You only will think I’m successful if I get that D1. We may not feel that way, but that’s what they’re interpreting by us signing them up for everything and making sure they’re with the best trainer and the best this and the best that…”
  • “I think that sometimes those kids who get stuck on those patterns aren’t forward thinking. We want them to be thinking about the kind of adult they want to be, not just the kind of adult we want to raise.”

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