Have you noticed that as your child gets older, the pressure in youth sports rises?
As a sports mom for 22 years, I felt that pressure often and I will admit that most of it was my fault. I spent my time worrying about things that either a) I couldn’t change or b) I shouldn’t change. And I have a feeling I’m not alone.
Here are some of the most common stresses of sports parents and how to combat them:
My child has to play/get enough playing time. Politics and coaching favorites aside, if your child is skilled, he will play. Stop watching the game clock and focus instead on his effort and what he is gaining from the experience.
I want my child to be happy. Of course you do. We all do. I hated it when my kids were miserable after a bad game. But part of growing up means your child has to learn to be responsible for his own happiness. If you remain positive and supportive and show unconditional love, you have done all you need to do.
I have to spend a lot of money for my child to be successful in sports. No, you don’t. If your child is skilled and you can’t afford the travel teams, clinics and camps, look for cheaper alternatives in city recreation leagues and local high school and college camps. You may have to do some research, but you can find alternatives. The important thing is for your child to keep playing and working on his skills. If he works hard, coaches will notice regardless of how much money you’ve spent.
I have to do it all. It’s important for parents to be involved in their kids’ lives, but no one expects you to be super mom or dad. Be at as many games as you possibly can and volunteer as much as you like, but for the sake of your sanity, learn when to say no.
My kid has to play in college. The hope of playing in college puts all kinds of pressure on kids and parents. If your child has that dream, then let it be his dream. If it truly is his dream, he will work for it.
I want my child to have a good experience. We all desire that for our kids, but good doesn’t necessarily mean easy. Good can mean challenging, growing, and learning. Parents should not always be smoothing out the pathway for their children in hopes that they will have a great experience. Let them grow up through the trials.
If you’ve felt any of these pressures, you’re not alone. The question is, are you willing to fight the pressures that will weigh you down and cause you to miss out on the joy of watching your child play sports?
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called jbmthinks.com. Her latest book 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents is on Amazon.