What Youth Sports Does for Parents

I’ve read many articles, and have written quite a few myself, that speak to parents about the value of youth sports for children. But I’m convinced that there’s just as much value in the experience for moms and dads as there is for kids.

For 22 years I journeyed through the ups and down of being a sports mom,  and even as I watched my young athletes grow and develop physically and emotionally, I realized that I was learning with them. Here’s what I learned, and what you can learn too—if you are willing—as your child plays.

I learned the importance of letting go.

It is probably the hardest thing that parents have to do, but youth sports is a great learning ground for them to ease themselves into it. Letting my children learn to fight their own battles and letting go of my need to fix every hardship for them was as necessary for me as it was for them.

Letting go will progress from youth sports troubles to relationship problems to career and marriage choices. Start practicing now!

I learned that I am a control freak.

I did not like feeling that I could not step in at any moment and make things work out okay for my child. Some days, it drove me crazy.

Recognizing my need to control situations for my child was the first step to learning to stop the obsession. The older your child gets, the less control you have and if you cannot learn to relinquish control while they are young, you may hurt your relationship with them as they get older.

I realized what I really wanted for my kids.

Of course I wanted them to have fun, get lots of playing time, enjoy their teammates and be happy with their coaches. But beyond all of that—because you know as I do that will not always be the case in youth sports—I got the vision of what I wanted our children to become. I wanted them to be champions in life, growing up full of compassion, integrity, and trustworthiness.

The trophies and awards are fun, but that’s not all kids should get out of their youth sports experience. Who they become in the process is what really matters.

As I watched our kids grow up and observed glimpses of who they could become as adults, I realized that as they learned about themselves and their place in this world, I was learning the very same thing. Parenting has been a journey of emotional and spiritual growth for me as much as youth sports has been for our kids.

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called jbmthinks.com. Her new book, 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents, is on Amazon.

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