4 ways for sports parents to build strong families

By Janis Meredith | Posted 12/26/2016

Your child is more than just an athlete; he is someone who goes to school, spends time with friends and family, and has other interests besides sports.

A strong family unit is important for every athlete, whether it’s blood family or friends-like-family.

I believe very strongly in the importance of family and so I want to give you some ideas for helping your family grow and stay strong.

A strong family works on communication

How well do you listen to each other? This means putting down phones and turning off the TV when important conversations are happening. Don’t let your kids bring their phones to the table, whether you are eating out or at home. They may roll their eyes, but it’s important that you foster an environment where everyone has to work on communicating.

Learn the art of asking good questions, and this applies to after practices and games. Not accusatory ones, but gentle probing ones that don’t allow for Yes and No answers. You may get resistance at times, but don’t let that deter you. Honest, respectful communication is vital to a healthy family.

A strong family supports each individual

No favoritism for one child’s stage over the other. Whether it’s sports, music or drama, give each child equal billing. Take turns attending their events. Dad goes to one; Mom goes to the other. Then they switch.

Dads, pay as much attention to your daughter’s music recital as you do to your son's football games.

Encourage your kids to support each other by going to each other’s games and events and cheering for them. Who cares if one child is not interested in the other’s sport? Teach them to support each other anyway.

A strong family carves out time for each other

The older your kids get, the harder this becomes. They get busy, start driving and want their independence, but don’t let that be an excuse for neglecting family time.

Make it work, somehow, some way. It will look different for every family, but make a point of planning family time, whether it’s a vacation, weekly meals together, outings, or hanging out at home. I really don’t think the venue is as important as the fact that the family is together on a regular basis. When your kids are little, it’s obviously going to happen all the time because you have to drive them to all their games and practices, but as they grow up and become more independent, you will have to fight for family time.

A strong family has fun together

I’m a firm believer in the importance of laughter in the home. In fact, I advocate silliness on a regular basis. Even if you are not the silly type, it’s okay. I’m not and sometimes I had to work at it, but I never regretted the laughter with my kids. Have fun with your child in sports. Laugh with them, play with them (without coaching), and don’t take every game so seriously.

Youth sports provide many opportunities for family bonding. Whether it’s road trips, postgame pizza, or listening to your kids rehash the game, use sports as a tool to make your family strong.

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called jbmthinks.com. Her new book 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents is on Amazon.