It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her
“Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words…
Our son is ten years old and has started playing competitive sports. I don’t know if I can handle it. Any of you ever felt this way?
grew up playing sports. I was involved. I wanted to be the best.
fight, the drive, the need to win and to be the best. I even miss the
confrontation and physicality that comes with playing sports.
*Our son is more passive. The fight is in him, I have seen it. But he is
not big on physical contact. His first thought is not to body-check
someone under the hoop.
*Our son feels that if he is part of the winning team then he has done
great. Regardless of how he performed. (What? I keep trying to tell him this is
*On top of that, our son likes to analyze. He thinks everything through. He needs to know the why’s behind what is being done.
*To make matters worse. He is an unbelievable athlete. He is tall,
strong, and smart. His hand eye coordination is fantastic. He has been
golfing since he was two. It is frustrating to sit there and watch him
NOT use his talents.
All of this is so foreign to us. We try to teach him to
get physical, to fight and to force. We try to instill the NEED to be
the best, to not settle for any less. Instead, we watch him on the basketball court as he analyzes everything happening in the gym except his own
game. (Heaven forbid he pay attention.)
As I sit and watch, it is all I can do to not yell… “NONE OF THAT MATTERS. GET THE REBOUND AND SHOOT THE BALL.” It is really hard to sit on the sidelines and watch.
We have asked him if he wants to play and he continues to make it clear that he does.
So here we sit. Wanting more from our son. Wanting to change him and
feeling like our expectations are not being met. After all, we are
athletes in this family. Right! RIGHT!!!
Have you ever felt this way?
Maybe you don’t feel this way about sports, but about something else. Maybe it’s playing a musical instrument or getting good grades in school.
Raising children is tricky. We often have ideals in our minds of how our children should be. When they don’t meet those ideals, when they don’t score 50 points a game, or get the lead in the recital, we feel disappointed.
But… acting this way towards our children is not going to better our relationship with them.
Here are a few suggestions that will ease this burden for both you and your child.
1. We need to stop assuming. We have always expected our son would be just like we were, like his
uncles, grandpas, and great-grandpas. But maybe he isn’t, and that’s okay. We need to let go of the assumptions and enjoy/accept the reality.
2. Our job is to provide opportunities. As parents our job isn’t to choose what our children like and don’t like. It is to provide opportunities for them so they can explore and then decide for themselves what they like and don’t like. We have seen this with our son. We are letting him explore lots of activity options. Although he likes most things, he is passionate about swimming and golf. We are seeing a “fire in his eyes” and an internal passion for participation. My husband and I both play golf, but the swimming is fairly new to both of us. We have had to learn the rules of competition and the in’s and out’s of the sport. It has been good for us as parents to learn how to support him in his passion.
3. We shouldn’t compare our children to other kids. Pointing out that Johnny scored 10 points, why didn’t you?, will not help our kids, or our relationships get better. We can’t compare our kids to others. They are unique and individual. Comparison will make our children resent us and make them feel inadequate. They will begin to think you would love them more if they were someone else.
4. Don’t force your dreams or missed opportunities on your children. It is easy to want our children to do all the things we didn’t get to do. Remember, it is not their job to re-do, or re-live our lives. They have their own lives to live. They shouldn’t be expected to make up for things we didn’t do. We want our children to accomplish goals and reach dreams, but we need to make sure they are THEIR goals and THEIR dreams. Take a minute to evaluate why you want your kids to do certain things. Are the motives pure? Do we really have their best interest in mind? Or our interest in mind.
5. Support, don’t push. As parents we need to be supportive of our children, but not be pushy or forceful. Most children don’t have a clue what they want to pursue in life. We should offer suggestions and then be supportive as our children discover the paths they want to take.
6. We can’t let our own self image get in the way. It is easy to worry about how our children’s actions make us look as parents. We have to let go of that. Just because our son isn’t the star of the basketball team, doesn’t mean I am less of a mother. Or that I need to make excuses to justify the situation. He likes swimming better than basketball. So what.
7. Focus on their strengths, instead of their weaknesses. Although he might not be cut throat in basketball, our son is a good boy. The best. He is kind, compassionate, sensitive, respectiful and obedient. He is a hard worker. He always tries to do what is right. He is smart and does well in school. He is constantly trying to learn new things. He has an amazing ability to understand math and science. He is funny and has a great sense of humor. He is helpful, always looks out for others and is a great big brother. He is inquisitive and focused. There don’t come any better than him.
We need to stay focused on how wonderful our children are, instead of the fact that they don’t care much about getting the rebound.
Is it hard for you to watch your kids play sports?
Do you ever force your dreams on your kids?