Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Message to Sports Parents

Jacob has played soccer every year since he was three. We've had a couple years of t-ball and we're debating basketball this year as well. All these years, at every single game or practice, there is always at least one parent there who just doesn't get it. This is for them. 

To the parent who forces their child to play a sport they don't like
Your child's worth is not based on their extra curricular activities. I'm sorry that you never made it to the major leagues but there is a difference between encouraging your child to step outside of their comfort zone and try something new, and expecting your child to make up for your presumed shortcomings. You are setting them up for failure. Sure, encourage them to give it a try, but if it's not for them, that's okay too. By forcing them into activities that they don't like, you are robbing them of opportunities to pursue interests in which they could really flourish. Your kid doesn't like soccer? Fine, teach him how to fish. Your daughter's not a prima ballerina? Great, maybe she's the next Thoreau. As hard as it can be sometimes, you must realize that your own dreams are often exactly that...your own dreams. 

To the parent on the sidelines, shouting criticisms until your face turns blue,
You aren't a drill sergeant. And if you are, your incessant ranting is still distracting and obnoxious. Stand down soldier. Can you imagine being seven years old, out on a soccer field that seems like it goes on for miles. You're tired after a long day at school but you're out there playing anyway. You're trying, you really are, but you're just not at your best today. Then, Dad starts yelling. "Are you blind? Do you even know what a soccer ball looks like? What is wrong with you?" 

Why would you even want to play? Your child already knows if they missed that pitch or didn't block that goal. Why would you want to publicly berate and humiliate them? You're the one person in the world who should have their back no matter what and you are letting them down. This isn't the Yankees. Calm down. In elementary school, sports are supposed to be fun. Your kid isn't going to be any less successful in life if he isn't the next Derek Jeter by second grade. You're teaching them to place too much value on the wrong attributes, and you're passing on a nasty attitude as well. Little Johnny out there is learning that they are a disappointment in your eyes if they aren't the best or the fastest. Make it a point to let them know how much you love to watch them play...even when their team loses, even when they trip over the soccer ball and fall flat over their back, even when they forget they are even playing and start chasing each other around the field pretending they're zombies. Encourage their efforts, praise their perseverance and determination, and you will have a happier, more confident child. 

To the parent whose face is buried in her iPhone until it's time to go,
You're missing out. Your children are growing up in front of you and you don't even see it...and trust me, your kids are noticing. Checking in at the soccer field and snapping a couple quick pictures as evidence of your being there does not mean you got the full experience. Your child is learning new skills, building relationships with his teammates, and often times looking to you for approval and you're missing it. How soul crushingly disappointing do you think that feels to them? Your child is venturing out into the world and that's really freaking scary for them. They still need your support, your praise, your encouragement. They aren't going to get it if your face is buried in a phone. Trust me, that Pinterest meatloaf recipe that you will never make can wait. Hell, your dinner is coming from a drive-thru tonight anyway. Prove to your kids that they are number one in your life. Drop the technology and just be involved. 

My rant for the night is over :) Thanks for reading!

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