Are Parents Living a Dream Through Their Kids in Sports?

Photo by Matt Espinoza As parents we have a responsibility to teach our children good values and to protect them from any harm – whether physical or emotional. We can’t predict what they will choose to be when they grow up. Parents can influence a child in many ways. Let’s look at the sports-world avenue.

I don’t write on this issue because of research I’ve done, no, I’ve actually experienced a few things during my life. I also realize that if you have children you will raise them how you choose and not how anyone else is suggesting. It is entirely up to you. Just remember, there are repercussions.

Sports are a great part of life, a gift that God gave us all to enjoy. This adventure can be for teammates to learn social skills; how to lose or win (with good sportsmanship hopefully); entertain crowds; earn scholarships for college tuition; treat injuries; work as a team; take coach’s instructions; experience traveling to another town; laughing together; crying together, etc. I could create a very long list but I don’t want to take up all your time.

I’m speaking in general to most parents. We’ve all taken an interest in one thing or another throughout our lives. Maybe horse riding, missionaries, science fiction, camping, sewing, cooking, truck driving, business-career oriented … I think you get the idea. Some parents will go through the extra mile to teach their children the necessary skills to learn what they (the parents) enjoy.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that’s a great thing! While our kids are very little it’s very important to spend time with them and show them many good things. Discipline is important at an early age – teaching them to do the right things. As they start growing up it is crucial to nurture them and to continue spending time with them as best you can. Personally, I think one of the best things you can do for your child is to “listen” to them.

The child finally gets to an age that we as parents decide to get them involved in sports. It could be football, basketball, baseball, track and field, tennis, volleyball, etc. It doesn’t matter which sport. The important thing is to introduce them to several sports not just one. If the parent only played football, don’t just introduce your child to football. I’m not saying the child’s interest won’t be in football, but there’s a chance it may not be.

The worse thing a parent can do is to force their child to play a sport that the youngster doesn’t enjoy. So many times I feel that parents were once athletes and maybe they didn’t reach a stage at the top. They put in their minds that maybe their kids can reach what they (the parents) once wanted. Maybe parents get into the competitive game of my kid is better then the rest of those kids and I want him/her to shine (in a sport the kid doesn’t want to play). These are just two facts, I’m sure there are plenty more.

If a child is forced to play a sport they don’t enjoy, this could cause problems between the child and parent. This is not showing love toward your son or daughter. It’s one thing to introduce a sport to a kid (it’s perfectly okay). However, once you discover they do not enjoy it, have them finish out the commitment. The next year, support them on the sport they enjoy doing.

In most cases your child will not want to hurt your feelings. He or she will continue doing the sport you want them doing – keeping anger inside themselves. You’ll see signs of the child not being happy. That’s when we as parents have to listen to our children – especially during the middle school and high school days – very important.

Listening to your kids can make a world of difference in your relationship. They will know that they are important to you – they will feel valued. When you tell them what to do all the time, well, that’s not really listening – particularly during middle school and high school. In grade school they are still learning and we do have to educate them by telling them what to do and setting a good example for them.

Explain to your child why they aren’t allowed to do something. Don’t just tell them, “No you're not!” Inform your son or daughter what can happen if they make a bad decision (whatever that might be). I know it’s difficult because there will be times when we as parents have to put our foot down and say, “You know I love you very much, but I don’t feel this would be a good idea, this is what could happen …”

I think being a good parent has to be one of the toughest jobs in this world, even tougher than US President Obama’s job. We owe this to our children, and to our community. Once your son or daughter has decided on what sport or sports they enjoy playing and wish to continue, please support them on this. It may even be a sport that you’ve never heard of. I had never heard of “curling” before, but if that’s what my child would have selected, you got it, I'd better support him or her on this. I’m not saying that curling is a bad sport – it just wouldn’t be something I would enjoy.

When I was growing up years ago (in the 70s) our school only had three sports, football, basketball, and track and field. Today there are so many sports, not just in the public school system but also club sports. There are organized traveling teams for kids that are more advanced than others – they have tryouts for these. There are leagues in the Boys and Girls Club, or the local Parks and Recreation Divisions. This is good news to many kids wanting to play sports.

We can’t be perfect parents – no one is perfect except Jesus Christ. But we can be there supporting our children, listening to them, showing them the love they deserve. If every parent would just put in a good effort, this world would be a better place – trust me.