As I sit in my car again waiting for my kid to get out of practice, I wonder if the time we spend going to and from athletic events is really worth all the time and money. How do I know that this effort is good for my kid?
Unfortunately, I don’t.
Just like every other parent working our way to the finish line, I often second guess these decisions I’m making and wonder how they will affect them once they are adults. Positively or negatively?
We decided early on that we were a “one sport family”. This was an easy decision when he was 5 and the options were limited. It also helped that she was 3 and had no desire to get sweaty. Things have changed now that we are pushing teens. Middle school brings on a whole new set of teams and decisions.
After a few years of tan lines and sport “mom” shirts, I have come up with 3 reasons that sports are good for my kids.
1. A good coach will help you parent during dark days.
We have had the honor of being coached by some incredible men. Men that had priorities straight and knew it wasn’t all about winning.
At 9, my favorite (only) son started having an attitude about all the words that left my mouth. Our discipline go-to at the time was to take away baseball. The coach found out the reason my kid was sitting out and pulled him aside to address his attitude and disrespect.
Since our kids idolize these coaches, his support for my parenting decision was uplifting and helped me in the middle of a low-confidence week. My kid listened and my community helped me. Win-win!
2. Teamwork is a life long skill.
We have had great, hard-working teams and we have had teams that look really nice in their clean uniforms. We have been the bench warmer and the starting player. We have enjoyed the company of the team families all season and we have had a year of solitude during the entire season.
Every season and every sport we learn more about being a part of a team-good or bad. We also learn about being a good community member.
We have learned to be left out and keep our head high. We have learned to stoop low to pull up a team mate. Losing or winning has importance but my priority with our team participation is absolutely learning to be a good team mate.
3. In these teen trenches, sports will always be a common language we can share.
It’s pretty hard to carry on a conversation when playing catch or one-on-one. And not just because I’m getting old. The focus on catching the ball or making a basket takes the attention away from the bad attitude. (It’s also hard to eye roll when catching or throwing.)
I can grab a ball and gloves and draw him out of the trenches. I can toss the volleyball up and help her find a smile.
I’m competitive so this new season of coordination and athleticism is thrilling. Especially if it draws out the smiles or conversation that feels hard sometimes.
Neither of my kids have aspirations to play any sport professionally. But the life lessons they have learned in the past and continue to learn are worth the hours at the field/court/practice. That, and I’m a sucker for a good bowl of nachos!