I remember playing sports back when I was a kid. My parents attended maybe one game a year. Usually it was a homecoming game or a senior night event. I would often ask them to come watch me play – I was always one of the starters in football and basketball. They would take me to my games and drop me off, but usually did not stay to watch. Other parents would be there watching their kids – even if they sat the bench. I actually played the entire game most of the time. I felt sad that my parents had no interest in my school activities – at least that’s how I felt. One of the times they showed up at my game was back when I was in the fifth grade in Dimmitt, Texas (we moved to Oregon in 1976). I was signed up to play in the Dimmitt Little Dribblers League – a league that included fifth and sixth graders. My mom was a teacher’s aid working for the elementary school. Mom knew Mrs. King who was the coach’s wife. Our game was on a Sunday – a playoff game at the end of the season. I told my coach that I could not play because I had to go to church. Mr. King said, “What?” The look on his face said it all. He continued, “David, we can’t win without you. We need you to play on Sunday.”
I had talked to my parents about this previously, but my mom insisted that I go to church and not the game. So I accepted the fact that I was not going to play and that I would let my team down – coaches and all. I had no clue what was going on. Sunday morning my mom explained to me that Mr. and Mrs. King were picking me up at our house and taking me to the game. I’m like, “what?” Somehow they convinced my mom to allow me to play. My brothers and sisters were furious because they had to go to church.
Church service was over by the second quarter. I noticed that my mom and dad walked into the gym. They came to my first basketball game ever! Naturally I was so excited. I scored 34 points and had 13 rebounds – it helps when you’re the tallest kid on the team. That game meant so much to me. Not because I did so well and we won, but because my parents were there watching. That was the last time they attended, except for senior night in 1978.
It got to the point where I felt great about other parents coming to me and congratulating me on a great game. All I could think about was, “Why couldn’t my mom and dad be like that?”
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to bash my parents, they had six kids to deal with. My dad was the only provider for the household – he worked very hard. He must have been tired after work. He would fix the car when it broke down – plus other household duties. My mom usually followed what my dad decided. I love my parents and am not ashamed to say that we were very different in “the way we think”.
When I became a parent, I remembered that feeling. Never would I miss what my kids were involved in at school. I wanted them to know that they were important and that I took interest in whatever they were doing. I made it a point to be there for whatever they needed – even if it meant taking time off work. If I was tired, it was refreshing for me to watch my sons. Don’t believe me? Just ask one of them.
It bothered me to hear some of my co-workers talking, “I can’t wait to get the rug rats out of the house.” Even if they were joking I don’t think it’s something to say about your kids. Our responsibilities to our children are to teach them good values and support them in what they want to pursue. Some parents tell their kids that they cannot play sports or that they can only play one sport. Here’s a good one I once heard someone say … “I had a bad experience with sports back when I played and I’m not about to let my kids play.” How selfish can a parent be?
Why do some parents become “power trip people”? Well, maybe it’s because “it’s all about me”. We often think about ourselves and not others – which includes not thinking about our kids. Listen to your children – don’t tell them what sport they need to play, ask them what they enjoy playing. It’s not the same thing as chores around the house – two separate things.
A child may want to play an instrument or sing in choir. The parent wants him or her to play sports. I understand keeping a child active with exercise and all. But in this case, if a child wants to pursue music, then we as parents must support their dream. Encourage them to go jogging or swimming so they can stay healthy while participating in music. It’s a proven fact that when you exercise your mind works better in the classroom.
When a child is forced to do what the parent wants, the fun will end. There could also be issues with the parent-child relationship. Some kids handle that better than other kids, but as they get older it will eventually get worse.
Don’t make it comfortable for you. Give up your night with the guys or working late at night. Give up watching TV and bring your other kids with you. Attend your child’s event. Sometimes we need to sacrifice for our kids. Support them – be there for your children. Take interest in what they are doing and go to every possible event that you can. Make an effort – they’re your children. Love them.