10 Signs You’re An Over Involved Sports Parent
By Alex Flanagan
I have a color-coded calendar to keep up with my kids’ sports schedules. Green indicates my son’s Little League practices on Wednesday and games on Friday and Saturday. The yellow postings remind me my 11-year-old practices basketball on Thursday and has a game on Saturday. Purple is for my 9-year-old, who also plays basketball and rides horses. The events in red, which intersect with some of the green, yellow, and purple, are for me. Coach a practice on Thursday, dug out mom duty on Saturday, etc. I almost need an assistant just to keep it all straight!
It’s stressful and lately I’ve been wondering what is it all for? Are my children becoming better people because they play sports, sports and more sports?
What about me? I’m almost certain I’d be a better mom if I spent less time in the car and more time actually engaging with my kids by playing a game of cards, sitting down for a family dinner, or just being less stressed and nicer to them in general. I know my marriage would benefit if I exchanged a baseball practice for a date night and when doesn’t wine with a close friend boost your happiness?
Don’t get me wrong. I love sports. But in a society that prioritizes them, our generation of “I’ve got to be perfect moms” is running around like chickens with their heads cut off. We’ve confused being a good mom with putting our own needs and interests aside and we’re not even aware we are doing it.
While it’s healthy and fulfilling to be involved with your children’s activities, is it possible you have become too caught up in their sports careers? I’m guilty of most of the infractions on this list, so do as I say, not as I do.
Here are 10 signs you have become an over involved sports Parent:
- You post Facebook photos of your kids holding blue ribbons, but never the yellow, purple or white ones. And you write things like, “so proud of our team” or “#champions.” Are you focusing on your child’s achievements, stats and scores or on their efforts? You want it to be the latter.
- You catch yourself saying “WE won, or WE lost the game.” As if YOU scored the touchdown or hit a three-point shot. Your child and their team lost the game, not you.
- You go by a nickname that puts the sport your child plays in front of the word mom, like “swim mom” or “football mom.” You are called this so often that few people actually know your real name.
- You wear t-shirts that say things like, “caution, football mom will yell loudly” or “who needs umpires when you have baseball moms?”
- You lobby or orchestrate ways to get your child on the stacked team with the best athletes. You’re disappointed when the team roster comes out and the kid from the robotics team who can’t swing the bat or sink a shot, is on your child’s team.
- You hire specialists. A personal trainer. A pitching coach. A quarterback coach. You think having someone work 1-1 will make your child a better athlete. While it might help with their technique, studies show that spending more money and investing heavily in your child’s sport actually makes them less motivated, not more.
- You are constantly complaining about being a chauffeur. If you are in the car more than 10 hours a week driving your children to Timbuktu and back for various sporting events and practices, you might want to reevaluate. While it might feel good for you to have your kids scheduled and busy, it might not be so good for them. Study after study shows it’s critical for kids to have downtime. Every day.
- You make excuses for your child when they are average, or God forbid, below average. “He’s the youngest kid on the team.” “He’s not feeling well today.” “She didn’t eat enough breakfast this morning.” Having the best player on the team does NOT make you a better parent.
- You’re competitive with other parents about your child’s sports accomplishments. Someone shares an achievement their child had and you fire back by bragging about how many goals your child scored last Saturday or how many trophies or blue ribbons he or she brought home. There is a difference between being proud of your child’s efforts and deriving your own sense of self satisfaction from your child’s sports success.
- You schedule more than one holiday, summer vacation or spring break around youth sports. Does Thanksgiving revolve around a soccer tournament, spring break around the schedule of the traveling baseball team, or do you need some sort of bracket to keep your game schedule straight on the weekends? Some families thrive in a lifestyle dictated by intense sports schedules, but for others the demands of travel leagues and club teams can take a toll on family dynamics and even create sibling rivalry. Is prioritizing athletics depriving the family unit of fun and adventure? Are your family traditions being shaped or even dominated by your kids’ sports? Are you asking yourself what’s your long term goal? To raise a professional athlete or a well rounded person?
Alex Flanagan co-founded I love to watch you play in 2015. She was flying home from an NFL work assignment when a learning specialist, who was sitting next to her, shared 5 reasons she shouldn’t feel guilty missing her son’s game. She shared their conversation on her own website alexflanagan.com and the response was so overwhelming it inspired her to co-create ILTWYP to help parents like herself navigate youth sports.
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