A wise woman once told me, “No matter where a mother was raised, how old she is, or how much money she has in her pocket, in the vast majority of cases, she wants to give her child a better life than her own.”
Of course this observation applies to dads too.
As a former athlete turned mom who is now raising my children and watching them compete in sports, I can easily draw a parallel between an everyday parent’s concern for their child’s general welfare and a zealous parent’s desire to see their offspring succeed in extracurricular activities. More often than not (especially in countries considered overly competitive like the United States), parents want to watch their kids achieve greater success than they ever personally experienced growing up.
I think this might be the biggest reason why we witness time and time again all across our great country and in our own communities, otherwise perfectly behaved adults lose their minds and their ability to act sensibly on the sidelines at youth sporting events (or spelling bees, or show choir performances, or dance recitals, or debate competitions, insert the activity of your choice here). Mom and dad simply want to see Little Johnny and Sweet Susie win because, one assumes, winning equals success.
And success leads to happiness. HEY REF! YOU SUCK! THAT DAMN KID TURNS THE BALL OVER EVERY TIME HE TOUCHES IT! I DON’T KNOW WHY ON GOD’S GREEN EARTH YOUR COACH CAN’T FIGURE IT OUT! BE MORE AGGRESSIVE! QUIT BEING SOFT! STOP YOUR CRYING! (just trying to make the kids “happy,” right?)
Many of you already know I launched a business last week. It’s a labor of love for me because I believe so strongly in the message I am both trying to spread and continue to practice.
I shared my moment on GiveTheGameBack.com. I would encourage anyone who’s struggling to keep perspective on how to support a child competing in sports to read about that moment. It basically involved someone giving me high praise about my son’s overall positive demeanor and attitude when I needed a gentle reminder that what he was doing and especially NOT doing on the ball field shouldn’t tarnish my pride for him.
A former collegiate teammate of mine read it and took the time to let me know it resonated with her:
“This is such an important conversation. Parents have lost their minds. Please know your words are inspiring for the other end of the spectrum – those of us who have great kids who love sports but just aren’t athletic. As former successful athletes, both my husband and I have struggled a bit to see our son on the sidelines or the C team. But he’s a great kid.”
Anyone who’s ever met me knows I am about as competitive as they come. Winning feels GREAT. Dominating an adversary in a sport for which you’ve both sacrificed years of blood, sweat, and tears is a life experience that is hard to match. There is a reason why my friends tease me about my inability to leave the glory days behind.
But I vow to give my kids the best life possible. It is their life to live after all. I’m guessing the best life possible for them won’t necessarily be measured in wins and losses. It will be measured in remarkable experiences lived, both on and off the court and field.
I challenge youth sports parents and promoters everywhere to join me in this movement.
Written by Heidi Woodard