If you are going to let your child play sports, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
1. Playing sports is not all fun and games. After the initial excitement—signing up, buying sports equipment, trying on the uniform—wears off, practice and hard work and tiredness set in. Practice will not always be fun. Your child will be tired. Is the season almost over? And then there’s the drama that is inevitable when kids and parents collide in competition. I’m not gonna lie, sometimes it gets downright ugly.
2. Your athlete may not be treated fairly. Your kid probably won’t get a lot of things you and he think he deserves: the position he wants (even though he is, of course, better at it than little Johnny), the playing time, the recognition. And sometimes, there’s just no answer for the unfairness of it all.
3. The sports parent’s job is exhausting and demanding. You will spend hours traveling, volunteering, washing uniforms, and sitting in bleachers (invest in one of those bleacher chairs now, your butt will thank you). Not to mention the emotional exhaustion of truths #1 and 2.
4. Sports may not work for your child. It’s okay if your kid tries sports and doesn’t like them. There’s always band, ballet, gymnastics, art, drama, student government, choir, photography, Girl or Boy Scouts—and the list goes on. Let them experiment when they are young until they find their niche. And then support them, even if it means they will not be the sports star you dreamed you’d have.
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5. Sports will teach hard life lessons for your child. I’m sure you’ve heard this a thousand times, but until you experience the struggles and challenges as a parent with your child, the truth of it does not sink in.
6. Sports Parenting will teach tough life lessons for YOU. Self-control, patience, perspective—if we let it, sports participation brings just as much character development to the parents as it does to the kids. The question is, will you be humble enough to recognize it?
If your child plays sports, is it worth all the trouble and expense and inconvenience? After 16 years of watching my kids play, I say, yes! For every minute of frustration and anger and disappointment; there were cheers of excitement or tears of pride as I watched my kids fight hard, fail, persist, succeed and grow through their sports experiences.
There are few more rewarding things in life than watching your child work hard and succeed. And doing it from the bleachers makes it even more fun.
Janis B. Meredith writes a sportsparenting blog, http://jbmthinks.com. She’s been a sports mom for 20 years, and a coach’s wife for 28, and sees life from both sides of the bench. You can also follow her on facebook and twitter.