Last week, my son’s Cub Scout pack hosted their annual Pinewood Derby race. If you’re unfamiliar with Pinewood Derby, it’s an event where scouts race cars that they’ve made against each other. It’s a pretty fun time.

All of the kids start with the same block of wood (and 4 wheels) and it’s pretty amazing what the finished cars end up looking like. Do a quick Google search for “pinewood derby cars” and you’ll get the idea.

My boys have been involved with Cub Scouts for the past 4 years. Every year, I struggle with how involved I should be in the whole process. I want my kids to win but I also don’t want to do all the work for them. Plus, they have ideas for what they want and those ideas don’t match up with what I’d like to do. 

The Pinewood Derby is supposed to be for the kids but I’m not quite ready for them to use power tools. My wife and I end up doing the majority of the cutting (and anything else involving power tools) and then let the kids do basic sanding and painting. Typically, we also have to add weights to the car to make it heavier so it will go down the track faster. 

Each year, we’re blown away by the quality of the cars at the race. Some of them are amazing and quite honestly look like they were made by professionals. I’m not saying that the kids didn’t do the work but many of the cars look like a dad built the car he wanted and didn’t get much input from his son. 

As a competitive dad, I want my kids to win. It doesn’t matter to me what they’re doing. It’s hard for me to see them put a lot of work into something, show up and then lose to someone else that didn’t do any work. I realize this is life. It happens in the corporate world every day.

When my kids do well, it’s very satisfying, especially when I didn’t help. My oldest son, Ethan won first place in the pack’s Raingutter Regatta several years ago. It’s similar to the Pinewood Derby except the kids make sail boats that they race in rain gutters by blowing air into the sail through a straw. He made his own boat and won.

We’re trying to teach our kids that they have to work for what they want and that we don’t always win. In situations that seem unfair, they have to persevere because that’s how life goes.

As parents, we need to have the faith that we’re raising our kids the right way. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

How about you? What have you done in situations where your kid competed against other kids and their parents obviously did most of the work? Feel free to comment below.

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