Join the club. We’ve all done things we wish we could take back. But these are the things you will not regret doing as a sports parent:
1. Going to all their games. Or at least every single one that you possibly can.
2. Telling them you are proud of them, win or lose. Before and after the game. And as often as possible in between.
3. Listening to them as they talk about every single detail of their game or practice. They may rattle on and on, but it’s just their way of sharing their excitement with you.
4. Saying yes to playing with them in the back yard. Even when you’re tired or have other “important” things to do, you will always be glad you took the time to play catch, shoot hoops or throw the football around. Keep it fun!
5. Letting them try new things. Whether it’s a new sport or a new book or a new musical instrument, let their world grow!
6. Teaching them to respect their coach and teammates. Learning early to respect others will be a character trait that will make them stand out as they get older.
7. Volunteering to help your child’s team and coach. It may be in a very small way, but if each parent carries a piece of the load, it will all get done. You will not only be doing this for your child, but for all the kids on the team.
8. Looking for small victories. Even when your child has a bad game or when the team loses, there’s always a small victory in there if you take the time to look.
9. Letting them fight their own battles. Whether the battle is for playing time or for that position your child wants, he will become stronger as he learns to work hard and earn it on his own, without your interference.
10. Refusing to nag and push them to perform. They need your encouragement, not your nagging.
11. Not taking it personal when they clam up after a game. Sometimes they just may not feel like talking after a game or practice. Respect that and wait until they are ready to talk.
12. Showing them that points scored and awards are fun, but they are not the most important thing. What is important is the person they are becoming as they play sports.
13. Taking lots of picture and videos. You will be glad you did when your kids are done playing.
14. Saving all the newspaper clippings, awards, and other memorabilia. Right now it may just seem like “stuff”, but when your kids are grown, you will enjoy the memories.
15. Being nervous. Being nervous before games was part of the adventure of sports parenting. It was my way of saying, “I’m really excited to watch you play!”
16. Buying a stadium chair. I sat through hours of games each week, and my back thanked me for investing in a comfortable seat.
17. Not letting your child rush back to play after getting injured. Your child may be in a hurry to return to playing, but resist the urge to give in. Be sure he is fully healed and cleared by the doctor. It’s not worth risking worse injury just to get back a game or two early.
18. Supporting the coach, even if you don’t like his coaching strategy. Not only will you feel better about yourself for not running interference for your child, your child will thank you for being supportive and not embarrassing him.
19. Keeping your mouth shout when you wanted to say something negative to “push” your child to play better. Sometimes when we nag or push in hopes of lighting a fire under their butts, we are only pushing them away.
20. Seeing the bigger picture of sports. If you can see past this game, this season, and this team to the fact that youth sports can be a positive force in shaping the character of your child, you will be able to better endure the petty things that tend to distract us from the bigger picture of what sports can do for your child.