You’ve been told numerous times and in a hundred different ways that youth sports has many benefits for your child. That is a message that needs to continue to resound; I firmly believe that youth sports can be life-changing and life-shaping for many kids. But as a sports mom of 20 years, I’m here to tell you that there are some things that youth sports will not do for you or your child. Youth sports is not the cure for everything that may be wrong in the family, community, or nation. It rarely provides the pot at the end of the rainbow.
Youth Sports will not solve your family problems
It may provide an opportunity for you and your kids to forget about or even escape the problems at home, but it will not solve them for you. It may provide friends and support and distraction, but true relief for family issues will only come as you intentionally seek help.
Youth Sports will not promise your child a college scholarship
Two percent. That’s the latest number I’ve heard concerning high school athletes who go on to play in college. Not a very promising percentage. If your child is good enough to get recruited, it still may not be for a full ride, a D-1 school, or even a D-2 school. Bottom line: the competition is excruciatingly stiff.
Youth Sports will not satisfy your own personal unfilled sports dreams Many parents look to their children to fulfill their crushed dreams of playing sports or of being stars. That is way too huge of a burden to place on any young athlete. And no matter how much satisfaction you may get from watching your child succeed, it will still not bring back the opportunities that slipped away from you.
Youth Sports will not replace a parent’s love
Neither the money you spend or the hours you volunteer will replace what your child needs the most from you: your love. I suspect that many parents show love by buying things for their kids or by giving time to their teams, and that’s as it should be. But without your love–expressed and displayed by you and felt by your child–those things are a “resounding gong, a clanging symbal” (The Bible). In other words, a bunch of empty noise.
Youth Sports will not give you as a parent true self-worth
Being proud of your child is a parental instinct. I know I will continue to express my pride in my kids until the day I die. However, no parent should look to his or her young athletes for a sense of self-worth. Admitting to this takes a brutally honest self-evaluation. When your child doesn’t perform well in competition, you are probably a bit disappointed. The question is: is your disappointment for how he feels or for how YOU feel? And when your child does perform well and gets recognition, does it make you feel better about yourself as a parent? There’s a fine line between being proud of your child and somehow thinking we are better parents because we have a child who experiences success. We are good parents because we love and support and raise our kids to do what is right, not because our kids score a lot of points or get their name in the paper.
Grab with Gusto
As your child plays sports, grab with gusto what you both can get from the experiences. Enjoy the adventure and take advantage of every single character-growing opportunity because the rewards far outweigh the shortcomings. Janis B. Meredith has been a sports mom for 20 years, and a coach’s wife for 28, and sees life from both sides of the bench. She writes a popular blog called JBM THINKS.