I love sports.
Athletics were always a part of my family growing up. My brothers and I built a solid foundation for life through sports. It’s where qualities like responsibility, discipline, and perseverance were expected of us. Those are skills we’ve honed through the years and carried into adulthood.
As much as I believe in encouraging kids to be active in sports, I think it’s a good idea for families to set reasonable boundaries around their schedule and involvement level. There’s a lot of pressure out there for parents to get their children busy with sports early and often.
The entire focus of youth sports seems to have shifted. It used to be an opportunity for kids to learn life skills like discovering their potential, becoming the best person they can be at what they’re doing, and learning from their mistakes and failures.
Now moms and dads feel like they have to raise super athletes. Rather than our children growing through those broader life lessons, getting them a college scholarship or a trip to the pros is the goal.
A little dedication and commitment is a healthy expectation for kids, but too much does more harm than good. Some children have very little free time of their own because their weeks are consumed with practice instead of late afternoons playing Superman and Batman out in the yard.
Parents, too, are driving themselves to exhaustion.
Authors Margot Starbuck and David King even encourage parents not to attend some of their kids’ games. It sounds counterintuitive, I know. But they say that purposefully missing a few sporting events can be healthy – for the parents and the kids.
Your periodic absence lets a child know that the life of the whole family is important. The world doesn’t revolve around them. And it helps the parents strike a better balance for themselves as well. Try to make most of your kids’ games, certainly, but when you can’t be there, don’t beat yourself up.
The best scenario for a family involved in youth sports, I think, is where kids are having fun and are naturally learning deeper life lessons through the course of playing the game. How can families find that sweet spot? Over the next two radio programs, we hope to put some tools in your hands to will help you with that.
Margot Starbuck and David King will be our guests for “Finding the Balance Between Youth Sports and Family.” I hope you’ll join us on your local radio station, online, or via our free, downloadable mobile phone app.
I’d love your input. How have you found balance between sports and your family?