Earl believed that parenting meant creating a relationship involving both trust and respect. He said that trust was something granted, while respect was something earned. And just when you thought you might anticipate his explanation of that philosophy, Earl the former baseball player threw a curve at you. Children don’t need to earn parents’ respect—it’s the other way around, Earl explained. With an impassioned plea, Earl believed that it is we parents who have to earn each of our child’s respect, by listening, sharing, and caring.

In a remarkable example of giving his child the space to make his own decisions (and then learn from the consequences), Earl began to tell Tiger that if he wanted to play in a golf tournament he would have to load all of his clubs and equipment into the car. At this point Tiger was eight years old. Earl recounts that there were a few times when he was backing out of the driveway, headed to a tournament an hour away, knowing for certain that young Tiger had forgotten his clubs. He had to work extremely hard to hold his tongue during the entire drive, but he wouldn’t say a word about it. And when they would finally arrive at the tournament only to discover the empty trunk, Earl wouldn’t have to point out Tiger’s mistake. And all the way home, he’d work hard to resist the urge so many of us give into: the urge of “I told you…”

With his family by his side, Earl Woods passed away in his home in Cypress, California, the same modest house where he and Kultida raised Tiger. It still has the net in the garage where 10-month-old Tiger first watched his dad hit golf balls some 30 years ago.

Due to his father’s illness and death, Tiger will be playing competitive golf this weekend for the first time in nine weeks. It will be the longest layoff of his professional career. Perhaps it’s in the Hollywood-type script for Tiger’s return to professional golf, the literal playing field of a boy and his father, to result in a timely championship --- on Father’s Day.

Tiger commented on his difficult return to that playing field earlier this week and said, “We're going through a difficult time with Mom and I and our friends and family, but I'd always smile back when I think back to my childhood. It's one of those things—I’m very lucky to have that. And I can say that with truth and honesty that I have a smile on my face every time I think back to my childhood…not everyone has that. I was very lucky.”

May all of our children be so lucky.


Hal E. Runkel, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist and author of the National Bestseller ScreamFree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool, from Waterbrook Press. Visit http://www.screamfree.com/ for more information.