Sports Parents, Let Go of These 4 Expectations

By Janis Meredith | Posted 9/30/2019

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after 31 years of parenting, it’s that things rarely go the way you hope or expect. Quite honestly, if you really want to enjoy parenting a bit more, it’s best to let go of these expectations overall:

Expectation #1: My kids will love me as much as I love them

Young kids generally adore their parents, but the harsh reality of growing up is that children may go through seasons of disliking, disrespecting or even hating their parents. When it comes to sports, it’s easy to let their bad attitudes after a game or practice affect you personally.

There will probably be days when your kids dislike you, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t love you every day. The problem is that there may be days, months or even years when you don’t feel that your love is reciprocated. If you can give up the expectation that they will love you as you love them, this frees you to love them unconditionally.

Expectation #2: My kids are always going to do their best

Parents get frustrated when young athletes seem uninterested. You want your child to learn a good work ethic and that feeds your expectation that they will give 100% in everything they do.

When your child does not do their best, when they seem like they could care less about something that you feel is important, what do you do?

The instinct is to get upset and lecture them about work ethic and about the consequences of a half-hearted job. We’re angry because we expect more, and we want more for our kids.

I believe that most children go through seasons and situations when they do not give their best. Rather than lecture, rant or threaten, what if you talked with them, listened to their ideas and asked questions about what they are thinking and feeling?

That will do much more to help them work through it than just giving them a lecture.

Expectation #3: They will go to 4 years of college, hopefully play a sport, get a job, get married and have 2 kids.

Learning to let go of this expectation is especially difficult for many parents. Many times an argument between a parent and high school graduate has ensued because the graduate does not want to attend college or play sports at that level.

But it’s important for parents to face this fact: the journey looks different for everyone. Forcing your child into a mold just because that’s the way you did it or that’s the way you think it should be done is not the best thing for them.

If your child is going against all your expectations, seek to understand why. Help them get clarity on the consequences of their choices and then let them choose. Their unique journey will be the very thing that shapes them and prepares them for their calling in life.

Expectation #4: My kids are going to make me happy.

If you are depending on your kids–or anyone else for that matter–to make you happy, you are placing upon them a burden they are not meant to bear. A lot of parents do this when their kids play sports, getting personal fulfillment when their kids do well.

Your kids will bring you great joy and your job as a parent can be tremendously rewarding. However, your happiness has to come from within yourself; it should not be dependent on someone else. Kids will disappoint and hurt you and if your happiness is dependent on how they are doing, you are in for a roller coaster ride of emotions.

The bottom line is this: if expectations are too much — reduce them. Where change in life situations is limited — increase support. Compromise must be the key word in reaching resolutions.

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