… EVEN IF IT’S NOT ONE YOU WOULD’VE CHOSEN
As a parent, it’s magical to witness the personalities of your kids develop. You begin forming opinions about who’s the wild one, who’s the trouble maker, and who’s most likely to be the bookworm. Yet as kids continue to evolve and grow, their interest in sports and activities may become less predictable.
The sports or activities you thought they’d love, turn out to be the ones they want to quit. Or perhaps you had high hopes that the sports you love would resonate with them too. Or maybe you’re excited that at least one of your kids turned out to be a little clone with your love for the game, whatever game that is.
Either way, it’s truly our job to let our kids explore their passion without our biased parental influence getting in the way.
We’ve always been big fans of trying it all. As young kids, they won’t know what they like or where their passion lies until they try new things. When you’re growing up, everything is new. And kids should try the same activities at different developmental stages because their experience might get better (or worse) over time.
We got our kids into many activities like soccer, swim, baseball, music, and more, not because we had an affinity to one sport over another but because we were trying to help them find something they could get into and enjoy.
When our kids were younger, we ultimately chose what activities to put them in. And undoubtedly, as they got older, they started developing their own opinions and interests. They began to understand strategy and teamwork, and they also started to have more control over their body and movements. It was refreshing to hear them voice an opinion about the sports and activities they were growing to enjoy.
We started seeing which skills came more naturally than others. And as long as they were having fun, it didn’t matter if they were any good. It’s a learning process, and we enjoy watching them learn.
Let them decide
As sports started opening back up (from the pandemic —which will one day be just a memory, hopefully), we, like many other parents, were rushing to get our kids signed up. We were strategizing our calendars and looking for all the different activities available.
My youngest son got the idea in his head that he wanted to play football. He couldn’t stop talking about it and it was the only sport that he had any interest in.
Unlike my husband, a football fanatic, I am not a football fan, so my initial thought was a firm “no”. I didn’t say it out loud, but I sure wanted to. He’s eight years old, but to me, he’s still my little boy, and I couldn’t even picture myself having a child playing football. My head immediately went to the “danger zone” of the sport.
I tried suggesting all kinds of other sports instead. I’d say, “Are you sure? How about volleyball? How ‘bout chess?”.
Now, this little guy is pretty determined, and surely I wanted him to be out there running around doing something he was passionate about. He talked enthusiastically about football and was super eager to give it a try. So I did what any loving parent would do, bit my tongue, and signed him up —secretly hoping he would hate it.
Try to hold back your opinion
I’m not sure I started off this way, but I quickly told myself to refrain from sharing my opinion about the fears I had for my son playing football. He made up his mind, and he was ready to be part of a team. I knew that battling him or trying to deter him wasn’t supportive, and I would’ve been making it more about me and not about him.
It’s one thing to encourage kids to get involved (or, in this case, not to get involved) because it’s in their best interest; it’s another thing to do it because it’s in our best interest. Pushing kids to do something they don’t want to do just results in them shutting down or creating a habit of people-pleasing. I wanted my little dude to find his own joy, and once I saw him play, I knew I had made the right decision.
The benefits of supporting his passion for football were greater than the cost of the struggle to keep him from trying.
Cheer them on
Everyone deserves a cheerleader! Support from your family and the people who love you is powerful and motivating. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to celebrate your child’s excitement and accomplishment. Watching my son run on that field is pure joy for him and me. It shows him that he’s free to be who he is, and it also shows him we believe in him.
After every game, his spirits are so high, even if they lose. The camaraderie with his teammates makes him feel included and confident. It’s incredible to watch your child who is more likely to give up out of frustration, push his limits and run even harder on the field. So, while I wince every time another player gets too close, I’m the loudest person cheering in the stands.
Learn it with them
To support your child’s passion for a sport, learn about it with your child. It’s beneficial for kids to see that parents don’t know everything and that they have to do things for the first time too.
When it comes to football, I know nothing. It’s quite comical, really. I watch the players run on the field, barely able to follow the ball. But when the game is done, I let my son explain every detail of the routes he ran and the plays he made. Sharing in your children’s activities builds bonds, trust, and confidence.
Who knows, maybe down the line, I’ll be a true football mom, but for now, I’m just enjoying seeing my son blossom and strive to be better.
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