A Lesson from King Richard: Believe it for your Kids First
I finally watched King Richard! I’d been wanting to watch it for a while, and after Will Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams, I couldn’t wait any longer and watched it this week!
I loved it. Biographical dramas are my favorite type of movie, so I expected to like it, but it really was wonderfully inspiring in a way that blew my expectations.
Let’s start by stating the obvious: you have two of the greatest female athletes of all time and the movie isn’t titled after them and they aren’t the main characters– this movie is centered around Richard Williams and his leadership and decisions and the role he played in his daughters’ success. It’s an interesting choice and I was intrigued by that. After watching it, I think this choice allowed the movie to be about so much more than tennis. Instead of it being narrowly about success in a sport, the movie is about family, hard work, shattering glass ceilings, breaking racial barriers, dreaming together and working hard for something with perseverance and determination. Yes, the movie could have been about all those things without Richard Williams at the center, but the reason it works better with him at the center is because he was the first one to dream and believe that his daughters would be who they became. With Richard at the center, we get to see the story from the start of the dream through to the fulfillment of it. Richard Williams believed Venus and Serena could be the greatest BEFORE they ever did (even from before they were born!).
Richard has famously (and repeatedly) said “This is exactly how I planned it” when asked about his daughters’ astonishing success. The 78-page plan that he wrote before his daughters were born spelled out in detail how they’d both become the GOATs. Every decision he made as a parent aligned with his plan and ultimate goals for his daughters. His plan provided a focus for the whole family. And talk about the power of affirmations! In the movie he repeatedly reminds the girls of their destiny. The confidence Venus showed in the famous interview when she was 14 years old came from having a clear focus, being encouraged in that direction and her father’s unwavering support and belief.
Richard Williams believed it first and herein lies the lesson for bilingual parents: we’ve got to see the big picture of who our children will be and encourage them accordingly. One day when someone tells me how amazing it is that my kids are thriving bilinguals, I want to be able to say “yep, that’s how I planned it.” Now, while I don’t have a 78-page plan for my kids (I am a planner, but this is really next level!), I am 110% committed to several goals for them– one of which is that they will be multilingual! Extraordinary achievements don’t come about accidentally– they are the result of intentional effort, hard work and perseverance. And BELIEF that the goal is actually achievable.
Watching King Richard, I was inspired to continue to verbally affirm my kids in pursuit of their multilingualism. Telling them repeatedly that they will be multilingual and why that’s important will have a significant impact on how they see themselves. And how they see themselves will impact what they do and what they do will impact who they become. The commitment required to reach this goal is key– just like the Williams family organized their entire lives around their commitment to raising tennis heroes– a commitment to bilingualism requires constant thoughtfulness, practice, follow through and the right mindset. The right mindset is the belief that it WILL happen and we as parents need to hold fast to it and impart it to our children, too. We need to believe for our children first so that they will see themselves as bilinguals and run after that goal themselves.
If you haven’t seen King Richard, I’d strongly recommend it, especially for parents. Go watch it! But more importantly, take home the message of the movie: believe it for your kids first!
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