I was not always thankful for youth sports as my kids grew up. It required hours and hours of my time, drained my wallet and bank account, and sometimes just plain wore me out.
But today, my kids are 27,30, and 33 and I am so very thankful for the many years they played youth sports because now I know the real reasons why those years were so valuable in their lives.
In this Thanksgiving season, it’s good to reflect and recognize why we can be thankful for youth sports:
My kids learned a healthy lifestyle. All three of them are involved in Crossfit today and are pursuing a healthy lifestyle of eating and exercise. That desire to stay fit was born and nurtured in them as they grew up playing sports. Fitness just became a part of who they are now today as adults, a lifestyle that will give them a happier and healthier life.
My kids learned to not give up. In sports, that meant working hard to make a team or to get playing time. Today, it means pursuing a job that they want or sticking with one that is not always easy. It means going after their dreams and desires even when the road is rough.
If my kids had not learned to persist, they would have missed out on the many opportunities for adventure, love, and growth that life has brought them.
My kids learned to work hard. My 30-year-old son recently lost his job and was quickly hired by another company. He is excited to get started in the new position and learn everything he can even before he starts. He said, “Mom, I may not be the smartest or the most skilled at what I do, but no one will ever work harder than me.”
He learned a lot of that from playing football. And that’s why so many companies like to hire college athletes—they’ve learned how to balance studies and school and have developed a strong work ethic.
I see that in all three of my kids—all three played sports through college. They are hard workers, willing to go above and beyond, always working to get better at what they do.
As I look back on 21 years of being a sports mom, I’m sure I didn’t always recognize the lessons my kids were learning as they struggled through challenges in sports, but I’m so very thankful that they did. I’m thankful that I learned from my mistakes and that my kids were not stunted in their character growth because of my parenting weaknesses.
If you or your child are in a hard sports season right now, be thankful. They are developing a foundation of character that can literally impact them in their future families and jobs.
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.
USA Football's new model for youth football is designed to make the game safer by reducing contact and by teaching the game based on an athlete's age, the skill they are learning and game type.