Parenting Our Kids in Today’s Sports World – Part 1
Over the course of the next three blogs I will be discussing navigating the waters of sports and parenting our children. We want to provide them with the best experience while also making sure we are focusing our efforts on building them into productive adults. Ultimately sports will be gone. We want to build them up and make sure we promote habits that win at life not just the next competition or tournament.
I find that when I stay out of the trap of advice giver and know-it all my relationship with my kids is better and consequently they also seem to enjoy their activities more. The two examples I have are from my daughter. She has been involved in gymnastics for some time. Something I know nothing about and would not really be much assistance with. My flexibility is not the best and I have no desire to start doing back flips and tumbling around. The thought of it makes back ache. We have been able to keep the conversation about it casual and never to the point I have got to with other sports. With other sports I have become any and all of the following type of parent:
- The I Told You So Parent – Pointing out all the things we discussed previously about what she should do and didn’t during a competition
- Critique Parent – Every little thing she or the team did wrong gets pointed out immediately following the contest
- Know It All Parent – Thinking I am the key to her success
- Coach Parent – Even though I’m not the coach
- Excuse Making Parent – Create reasons why her team lost or she didn’t play well
- Car Ride Parent – Relive every play of the game
- Scoreboard Stressor Parent – Focusing too much on winning and losing
- Stat Rat Parent – Either overemphasizing how well she did or how poorly she did
- Cheerleader Parent – Loudest one in the stands
- Ref/Ump/Coach Critique Parent – Telling them how to do their job
- Pressure Parent – Over practicing or making it all about performance
- Family Funk Parent – After a tough loss let it rob quality family time
When I stay away from these roles I have played at times things are so much more enjoyable for both of us. And most importantly for our family too. One of my favorite things is to listen to Grace play the piano. Outside of loving live music and concerts with my amazingly beautiful and smart wife I have very little input for her. I have never played an instrument in my life. This situation allows me to not fall into the trap of become one of the types of parents I mentioned above since my own personal experience doesn’t allow it. What it does allow me to do is sit, listen, and watch her. I am able to fully enjoy the experience. I don’t get worked up when she misses a note or messes up like I might when she strikes out playing softball or turns over the ball in basketball from a bad pass. I want to be present in the experience and this allows me to remove myself and make it about her. Not about me. Probably the biggest thing you can do as a parent is realize this is not about you!
Next week we will look at ways to make sure you as a parent are able to enjoy activities your kids are involved in and also help support them the best way possible rather than falling into the trap of becoming one of the types of parents I mentioned earlier.