One of my fondest memories of growing up was singing “Moon River” at a choir recital when I was an elementary school student. I sang proudly — but what I most remember was Mom telling me afterwards, “I was so nervous for you, son, but you did a wonderful job.”
I still sing to this day and am glad that I had a parent who supported me but also gave me room to grow when I stopped singing (because it wasn’t cool anymore) and was joyful when I took it up again years later.
What makes sports and activities so meaningful is how they allow kids to express their unique, individual talents, to contribute to a team and to have fun.
But sometimes it isn’t so fun for parents, and I think I know why.
We have unrealistic expectations that make us demand perfection, but we forget to allow kids to make mistakes without fear. Sometimes kids aren’t always “in the zone” — but neither are we.
We compare our kid to another kid and think that we are “motivating” them to do better, but it doesn’t work.
Children have their own special strengths and abilities that we should be helping them discover.
We take it way too seriously when we start to blame officials and pore over stats and feel depressed when our kid loses. I always try to remember that these are games and activities.
We worry needlessly about our child’s performance, and that worrying never helps our kids to do better.
We miss opportunities to laugh when our children make mistakes in a game, a band performance, a speech, a play, etc. Sometimes, you’ve just got to laugh at the mistakes — they are mistakes.
We overanalyze and, instead of learning, we start dissecting. The coach’s actions, child’s performance or team mistakes can turn us into an analytical blowhard. Sometimes we have to just let it go.
We forget the big picture: Sports and activities bring excitement and recognition, might help pay for college and even open doors, but nothing will ever be more important than the type of person our children become in the process.