A Champion’s view on parenting

24 August 2015

Last week we had a visit from our friend and World Champion of Pool, Henrik Larsson. We talked a little about what didn’t go so well during the European championships and what good came out of it. We also talked to Henrik about some of the things he does for a living, such as helping parents to kids with different disabilities.

Henrik Larsson, current World Champion of Pool.

The European Championships

Henrik failed to reach the goals he set up for himself during the European championships of pool. In the wheelchair division he failed to qualify for the semi-final in 10-ball, 8-ball and his personal favourite the 9-ball.

“It’s quite apparent I need more training. My best game is still good enough to win the tournament but my worst game needs work if I have my sights set for the gold. The definition of a Champion is game quality on a bad day and I am going to live by my own words and therefore spend a lot more hours with my homework.”

However the European Championships weren’t all bad news for the reigning World Champion. He was also elected the official spokesperson for the Wheelchair Division.

“I’m very honoured that the wheelchair division players voted for me for the title. I hope to be able to improve the relations with the EPBF and improve the standards of the wheelchair division players.” 


No Special Treatment!

Being born with a spinal injury Henrik knows what it’s like to have to face all the ups and downs of a childhood in a wheelchair. As a father of two children, ages 2 and 4, he has also learned a thing or two about parenting. Combining these two experiences he holds seminars and lectures about the important and decisive extra responsibility that comes with parenting a child with a disability. This mainly to parents who are in that situation but also to students at university.

Henrik is used to keeping more than one ball in motion.

“My parents weren’t perfect but they tried and came as close as anyone possibly can, I think. They acquired all the limited knowledge that was around in the 70´s and stayed sharp to pick up new information as they went along. No separate treatment and total integration was their formula in parenting me. They took me with them everywhere be it sailing or horseback riding, somehow they found a solution to make it work. I’m really thankful for the type of upbringing they provided and my successes in life is more or less a result of their common sense, sound values and supporting love.”

According to Henrik there is a number of factors that will help build your self-esteem and confidence. Not being given any special treatment is one of them. We all know that curling, that is to say, sweeping away the obstacles and hard times from the life of your 

child, will have a negative effect in the future. Henrik means that this is even worse when your child has some sort of disability.

“If you spend all your effort in making your child happy and being near panicked when they are sad you project the image that it is not ok for them to be sad. All kids need to feel sadness, boredom and setbacks in order to learn how to deal with these feelings. It can be absolutely disastrous for the self-esteem of a young adult, who never had any demands made on them, to enter the real world unprepared for what it means to be a part of society.”

According to him it’s very important that you as a parent treat your child with a disabilities just as you would with a child without disabilities. His idea is that more people with disabilities should be seen in everyday contexts, which just by itself would contribute to a better and more including image of people with disabilities.

Henrik's Gold medal from the 2014 World Championship of Pool.

“Everyone is better off contributing in one way or another to society by having a job and paying taxes and being and independent person. The opposite is often a downward spiral. With dependence on others comes low self-esteem, which in turn leads to passiveness and in the end social alienation. Guess which choice is better a social economic level? It’s really a given and since we live in the 21st century, there’s not many jobs today that require you to be able to stand. In fact a lot of jobs performed by people without disabilities would be better done by those with disabilities. The jobs I’m talking about are work therapists, case workers, those assessing buildings and public spaces for accessibility.”

And perhaps he’s right who better to tell someone in a wheelchair that life isn’t over just because they’re in a wheelchair, someone who’s met a lot of people in a wheelchair or someone who’s actually seated in a wheelchair?