My kids are, first and foremost, the greatest thing I have done with my life. I have to imagine every parent feels the same way and obviously, as parents, we all want our kids to succeed. I’ve read articles about helicopter parents and how our generation is coddling our children and I have to be honest…I’m guilty at times. At times I get involved a lot more than my parents ever did with me when I was 10 or so. Not that my parents didn’t love me unconditionally because they did and they did everything they could do for me at that age however it was a different time back then. Now we know WAY too much. We know to buckle our seat belts. We know to wear helmets. We know to start a savings account pre-birth. We KNOW what happens when we don’t do EVERYTHING the books and the internet and all the experts tell us. And that’s fine. Having more information has got to be better than not having any information at all…right?
So now the idea of being a helicopter parent comes into play when we have situations like we have now. Currently Christopher is back to football. Baseball season came and went and so it’s time to strap on the helmet and go hit somebody. The thing is…well…these kids are BIG now. I mean, in some cases, REALLY big. A LOT bigger than Christopher is and so, being a parent, that is a concern. We tried asking the league to allow Christopher to play down an age group. He only missed the age cutoff by a few days and we thought if he played with the younger boys he might get a chance to play more. That was shot down. So now he’s playing on the Juniors team. A Junior Youth team is also in play which is for kids more his size and age, so he will, more than likely, play on that team. And that’s fine. But in my head, I was kind of hoping he’d play down so he could get a lot of experience instead of the amount of playing time he’s had the last couple years.
But here’s the thing, and this seems to apply with ALL the sports that Christopher has played in the last 5 years…the only one seemingly concerned about this is his mother and I. Christopher seems fine with whatever comes his way. If he plays, he has fun. If he sits, he gets to hang with his buddies and for him, that’s fun. He goes to practices, he works out with his friends, he has fun. At this point, as much as I think he’s being sat too much or that he’s being pigeonholed into a certain position, Christopher himself doesn’t seem to take issue with it. Doesn’t matter how much time he rides the pine or how often he doesn’t get the opportunities that some other kids get, he still loves being with his buddies and playing sports! So…as a parent…I am trying very hard to keep my yap shut and let him do what he wants to do. From that perspective, it makes sense!
Here’s the problem with youth sports today…they begin at such an early age. So many parents are pushing their kids to play at such a high level with AAU teams and with so many leagues and all the options available, it’s a little out of control. I remember when I was 10, I don’t think I played ANY sports. If I remember correctly, I didn’t pick up a basketball until I was in 6th grade (but I’m sure my Mom will remember better and I’m sure she’ll comment on here eventually). So Christopher is WAY ahead of me when it comes to athletic prowess. So for me to be “pushing” him into sports is a non-issue. I don’t “push” my kids to do anything they don’t want to do. And I certainly don’t see the point in taking him away from his friends to play at a “higher” level when it comes to this time period in his life.
I see so many parents who seem to be telling their kids that winning IS everything. In order to be something in life, you need to be the best. Well…I disagree. He’s 10. He’s never gonna be 10 ever again. In MY opinion, I want my son to have fun playing sports. The odds that he’s gonna go big time and be a professional athlete are so small that it is a ridiculous pursuit and one that is completely a parents’ pride at work. For me, I want Christopher and Ava to just enjoy playing sports of any kind. And if they decide they want to play 1 sport? Fine. If they decide they don’t want to play any sports? Fine. If they aren’t the best players on the team but enjoy being with their friends and want to put in the practice time anyway? Fine. I’m all good with any of the above. I think that, as a parent, I should be supportive and hope that the kids take away from sports something other than just the need to win. I would hope, as they go on through their grade school and high school years, that sports brings to them a sense of camaraderie, community and an ability to work towards a goal, even if they don’t fully succeed in the end. Sports is NOT the end all of their lives. I would hate for Christopher or Ava to be the star athlete on their varsity team, win a state championship, go to college and then end up back in my basement, unable to find a job and living on that one moment in their life where they were the “next big thing.” Yeah…screw that.
The thing that pushes me to write about this topic is that there is so many pressures and so many options these days that it’s just exhausting. I don’t want my kids to have the pressure. I don’t want my kids to worry about the options. I want my kids to ENJOY being kids. There are enough pressures in this world and, in time, they will have their own. For me to push them into high levels of competition because of a dream I once had would be the worst possible thing I could do. So I tell my kids…go have fun. And if it’s not fun, don’t worry about it. You can always take up golf.