It’s time for a little honesty, sports parents. These 6 truths about youth sports may be hard to choke down, but with a little help, they can be faced victoriously.
By Janis Meredith
Truth 1: Playing sports is not all fun and games.
After the initial excitement of starting the season wears off, practice, hard work and tiredness set in. Practice will not always be fun. Your child will be tired. And, of course, there’s the drama that happens when kids and parents collide in competition. Sometimes it gets downright ugly.
What you can do about it: Look for little victories, stay focused on the game and ignore the distractions of conflict and drama.
Truth 2: Your athlete may not be treated fairly.
Your kid probably won’t get a lot of things you and he think he deserves: The position he wants, the playing time or the recognition. It can seem very unfair.
What you can do about it: Vent to someone who loves you; don’t vent to your child. Give your kid a hug, look for the positive and seek to help your child grow through the experience.
Truth 3: The sports parent’s job is exhausting and demanding.
You will spend hours traveling, volunteering, washing uniforms and sitting in bleachers – not to mention the emotional exhaustion of Truths No. 1 and 2.
What you can do about it: Be selfish now and then, and get some alone time or time with just you and your spouse. Your child will not be scarred for life if you miss a game here and there. You do NOT have to be super mom or dad.
Truth 4: Sports may not work for your child.
It’s okay if your kid tries sports and doesn’t like them.
What to do about it: Let your child experiment until he or she finds a niche. There’s always band, ballet, gymnastics, art, drama, student government, choir, photography, Girl or Boy Scouts – the list goes on. Support them, even if it means they will not be the sports star you dreamed you’d have.
Truth 5: Sports will teach hard life lessons for your child.
I’m sure you’ve heard this a thousand times, but until you experience the struggles and challenges as a parent with your child, the truth of it does not sink in.
What to do about it: Expect the challenges and see them as wonderful growth opportunities for you and your child, not struggles that threaten to defeat you.
Truth 6: Sports parenting will teach tough life lessons for YOU.
Self-control, patience, perspective – these will all be severely tested as you deal with parents, players, coaches, officials and opponents.
What to do about it: Be humble enough to recognize these trials as opportunities for you to become a better person and parent. If you let it, sports participation will bring just as much character development to you as it will to your kids.
Even with these hard-to-swallow youth sports realities, there are very few things in life more rewarding than watching your child work hard and succeed. For every minute of frustration and anger and disappointment, there are cheers of excitement or tears of pride as you watch your kids fight hard, fail, persist, succeed and grow.
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has recently launched a podcasting series for sports parents. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.