How to Avoid One of the Biggest Sports Parenting Mistakes

By Janis Meredith | Posted 4/10/2019

Every parent makes a mistake now and then. You yell at your kids, forget to do something important, show up late to pick up – the list is endless. However, one of the biggest parenting mistakes you can make actually has nothing to do with your kids and has everything to do with you.

On every flight we take, we all hear the same oxygen mask instructions from the attendants – put your mask on before your child's. Those instructions may seem illogical as a parent at first thought, but you truly can’t help them if you don’t help yourself first. The oxygen mask instructions should be applied to parenting too.

As parents, you must learn to take care of yourself so that you can care for your child. Another way of saying it is this: in order to truly invest in your kids, you must invest in yourself. This is especially true for sports parents. You can be so wrapped up in your child’s activities and success, that you neglect your own.

I raised three very busy, athletic kids. I know how easy it is to get caught up in their lives but finding time to invest in yourself and properly care for yourself is a must if you are going to raise healthy kids.

There are many ways to “put on your oxygen mask,” but the most important first step is to build a solid support system for you. Everyone’s support system will look different, but here are some suggestions of the basics that you should have in yours:

Supportive friendships. You’re probably surrounded by “friends” a lot, but how supportive are these people, really? Be sure that you are seeking out those one or two friends that know you genuinely support you and speak positive truth into you.

A support group. Whether it’s a group at your church, a group of neighborhood parents or a more official group that supports while it teaches you something, this is another way to build your support system.

A mentor. Maybe you know an older parent who you admire or who you’ve connected with. Seek them out to learn from them and listen to their wisdom. This can even be a podcast you listen to if you get something from the speaker!

Coaching or counseling. Counseling is often used to help face one’s past and heal old wounds. On the other hand, coaching is for people who simply want to see improvement in their lives. Rather than healing from the past, coaching looks forward and helps to improve your future lifestyle.

You may need both at different times in your life. You may need to address hurts from the past, and there is freedom in confronting these issues and working to get healing. It won’t be easy, but it will make you healthier – and in turn, do the same for your kids.

Go back to school. Even if it’s only one class and it isn’t even working towards any specific degree. Pick a class about something you love, or something you’ve always been interested in. It will invigorate you emotionally and mentally.

Schedule time for self-evaluation. Whether it’s once a day or once a month, set aside some time to ask yourself some key questions. What grade would you give yourself when it comes to parenting? What can you change to be sure you’re raising kids who are compassionate, trustworthy, strong and full of integrity?

I like to encourage parents to not just “wing it” when it comes to their parenting. Your kids are the biggest contribution you can make to this world, so take the time to be sure you are working towards the goal of what you’d like them to be when they grow up.

So, the challenge I’d like to put before you, sports parents, is this: What’s your oxygen mask look like? Are you working on being healthy so that you can help your children become healthy? Check out these tips for taking care of yourself first so you can, in turn, be the best possible parent for your young athletes.

Janis Meredith is a family coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at