A New York Times article last fall reported about a company, Youth Sports Live, which is set up to broadcast events like your kid’s Little League game live via webcams at local fields. Of the generally negative responses to the idea that I read, I noticed two different camps: Some said it’s bad because parents aren’t involved enough with their kids. Others said it’s bad because parents are already TOO involved with their kids’ sports.
Nobody said, “I don’t want to make it to all of my kid’s little league games.”
What!? Are you serious? I’m not going to get nominated for parent of the year these days if I tell someone I have something to do that’s more important than my son’s little league game. But the truth of the matter is that my kid has a better chance at growing up psychologically strong and healthy if I miss a few games because of work, tight schedules, or even to mow the lawn.
Asking parents why they think they SHOULD go to their kids’ sporting events can reveal some assumptions:
- If I don’t go to my kid’s games, I’ll look bad.
- If I don’t go to my kid’s games, he won’t know I love him.
- If I don’t go to my kid’s games, it will hurt her feelings.
- If I don’t go to my kids’ games, they’ll be psychologically damaged.
The truth of the matter is:
- Parenting based on how we will appear to others is a bad idea.
- Missing a game encourages my child to understand all of the other tangible ways we love each other.
- It’s okay to hurt my kid’s feelings sometimes. Kids shouldn’t grow up thinking they’re too special to offend or that they are more important than everything else. Pampering them robs the chance to gain inner strength.
- Kids are resilient. Psychological health (confidence, control, coping, teamwork) grows by facing challenges and learning how to deal with them ON THEIR OWN. It’s actually damaging to my kid’s development if I’m always there.
Besides that, it’s very empowering for kids to have a hobbies that are THEIR hobbies. When they pursue involvement or even excellence at a sport, we don’t give them a chance to own it if we’re too involved. When we let them be on their own with their team, they have the chance to truly bond with them and build friendships that can be inhibited under the watchful eye of parents.
For the record, there are good reasons for parents to go to kid’s games:
- It’s fun to watch them play.
- It’s a nice way to get out of the house, spend time outside, and encourage physical activity.
- Kids like it when they can show off their skill to us.
- Connecting with and talking to other parents is important.
- It’s healthy to talk with kids about the game, sportsmanship, winning, and losing.
- It’s nice to spending time together.
Here are also some reccomened dos and don’ts”
- DON’T say you’ll be there and then NOT show up.
- DON’T make a lame excuse instead of apologizing for unexpectedly not showing up.
- DO spend other quality time to make-up for time lost.
The pressure is always on to be the über-parent. Whenever we feel like we “should” be doing something, it’s smart to ask ourselves, “Why do I feel this way?” and then, “Does the answer really make sense?”