A Second Lesson from Diana Nyad—Especially for Parents

Written on September 5, 2013 at 3:29 pm , by

Photograph courtesy of www.diananyad.com.

 

I swung. I missed. And with the laughter of my brother and his friends echoing in my mind, I quit tennis. I couldn’t play the song perfectly so I stopped taking piano lessons. I just didn’t have time to practice, so I no longer use a 9-iron.

I am sure that we all have similar stories from our past. Tales of when the going got tough and the tough did not buckle down and get going. But not Diana Nyad.

“Never, ever give up,” she insists.

In case you missed it, Diana Nyad is the 64-year-old champion who realized a dream that she’d had in her heart since she was 8 years old. Her vision was to swim from Cuba to Florida. And you know what she did? After three decades of not swimming and four failed attempts, she became the first person to complete that 103-mile shore-to-shore trek without a shark cage!

“Find a way,” she encourages.

Her achievement symbolizes hope and determination in the face of a multiple challenges. She demonstrated the value of identifying a dream, structuring a plan and not letting any person (or jellyfish or shark or level of exhaustion) get in the way.

“Tell me what your dreams are,” she says.

As parents, how often do we squash our children’s dreams because our own parents stomped on ours? Or because our partners or friends laughed when we were bold enough to dream out loud? No more.

Dare to dream,” she urges.

How did Diana do it? She paid attention to her desires and built a life on the backs of motivation, pride, fearlessness and a soul-stirring ability to fall down but get up again. In other words, she failed, regrouped and kept on going.

The lesson for us as parents is to help our children believe in their dreams. We need to support their efforts for both big and little aspirations. We must surround them with examples like Diana, who is a true inspiration and definite hero. Let us pick them up when they fall and offer suggestions for persevering—not exit strategies—when plans go awry.

I am so glad that Diana didn’t quit. Teach your children to dive in like her—and you’ll be proud when they go the distance.

Have you ever discouraged your child from pursuing a dream? Post a comment below and tell me what happened.

Janet Taylor, M.D., M.P.H., is a mother of four, a psychiatrist in New York City and director of guest support for The Jeremy Kyle Show. Follow her on Twitter @drjanet.

Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at askdrjanet@familycircle.com.