4 steps to going all-in as a sports parent

By Janis Meredith | Posted 11/2/2015

Good sports parenting is exhausting. And the reason why is that good parents don’t stand around and just watch.

They go all in.

Let’s use the Grand Canyon as an example. If you’ve ever been there, there’s two ways to experience it. There’s hiking down through the canyon and up to the rim, and there’s just enjoying the view from the rim.

Author Mark Batterson talks about this in his book “All In.” He and his son hiked through the canyon and when they reached the South Rim, they stood next to the people who had not hiked it, the “rim huggers.”

“I felt sorry for them,” he writes. “Why? Because they were seeing it and missing it at the same time. ”

He called them rim huggers because they stand and stare, but never hike into the canyon.

Not being a rim hugger sports parent means:

  • You let yourself experience adventure with your child. Good sports parenting means that you hike the canyon with your child instead of standing there watching from the rim. It means you go outside and shoot hoops with him or hit volleyballs so she can practice her serve instead of instead of watching from the window.
  • Going all in sometimes means that you break the rules. I know that structure is often necessary, especially for athletes, but there are times when parents need to loosen up and break the rules. If the family has a vacation planned during summer practice, then go. How about the can’t-stay-out-late-on-a-school-night rule? Or the no-ice-cream-before-dinner rule? Or the don’t-get-dirty rule? Sometimes, going all in as a parent means not being afraid to go all out and just let yourself have fun with your kids.
  • Going all in as a sports parent means that you look at interruptions as opportunities. If your child is interrupting you while you work, while you read a good book or while you clean the house, it’s way too easy to brush him aside and say “later.” If it’s at all possible – is that work so important that it can’t be delayed for 10 or 15 minutes? – take the opportunity to focus on the child asking for you. You have been given his undivided attention, at least for a few moments, because he wants something from you. If you see this as an opportunity instead of an interruption, it will change your attitude and could give you some precious time with your child.
  • Going all in means that you let yourself be silly. When you add silliness in with values, respect, love and good communication, you have the recipe for a great home environment. Dress up flamboyantly for your child’s game, cheer loudly with the cheerleaders or join in on the postseason parent/child scrimmage. Sure, your child may roll his eyes or even act embarrassed, but don’t let him fool you. He may not even realize it, but silliness and laughter are building bonds that will last a lifetime. Laughter is amazing medicine, and the family that laughs and gets silly together has a better chance of staying strong and close as they grow up.

Good sports parenting means that you don’t see your child grow up secondhand. You experience it firsthand. It’s the difference between knowing about your kids and knowing your kids.

As Batterson says, “Hikers know the canyon in a way that (rim) huggers never will.”

Don't be a rim hugger sports parent.

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 a podcasting series for sports parents. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.