My sons have just started their spring baseball season this year. As a parent I love watching them practice, see them as a community member among their peers, taking critiques and tips from their coaches, and watching them learn and laugh. Honestly, I love the whole process: trying to find their bat from last year, watching both my sons and their father bond over a trip to the sports store together, shuffling each son to practice, laying out the uniform and supplies the night before their Saturday games, our family contributing to snack duty the first week, and then watching them with big smiles on my face as they play, and I get few moments to chat and connect with other parents in our community.
In all of this fun and joyful parenting process of preparing our sons for baseball I know what to do to prepare my sons. I’ve even been whacked by a few baseballs by one child who can send the ball close to out of the park. I’m certainly not very athleticly talented, in any way! I’ve found raising sons who like sports has been a character building process for me.
Yet, when it comes to game day what do I say? I didn’t know what to say. As a parent am I to correct them? Am I to shout loud and be a cheerleader? Am I to volunteer and get out on the field with them? I’ve came to the conclusion as a parent with limited sports knowledge, and even if I did know the game in its entirety, that when it came to my children playing sports the most important role I can play is to be present and encouraging in a calm supportive way.
As a parent I’ve came to the conclusion that when it came to my children playing sports the most important role I can play is to be present and encouraging in a calm supportive way.
There are parents who kindly play a pivotal role in helping to raise my children by volunteering by coaching or as the parental base coaches. I’m grateful for these individuals, mostly male, who kindly help to encourage, mentor, and teach my sons the rules of the game.
There are also parents who coach from the sidelines, take their child’s plays of the game personal, correct their child’s plays of the game quite abruptly and verbosely once the child is struck out or comes across home plate.
This last Saturday, as a child hit the baseball into the outfield, he ran to first and then raced toward second. The baseball was retrieved faster than the hitter now runner had anticipated and the child was tagged out close to second base. As the child sat back down on the bench with his teammates, the parent came up with a pointed finger waving and was clearly yelling at the child about going into second base. It’s certainly not my job to judge this parent; it is her journey in parenting and life. But as the berated child slunk back into his seat surrounded by his peers, I watched and observed this situation as I’ve seen several other cautionary parenting tales on how not to act as a parent of your young athlete or performer in other extra curricular activities or school performances.
As a parent I agree that if your child’s behavior begins to become a safety issue or blatant disrespect towards other teammates, peers, or the coach then you as a parent should step in and do your job as the parent. Note I said, “your job as the parent”, and I did not say your job as the coach.
Tim Elmore’s advice and insight only confirmed my opinions of the positive pivotal role I should play as a parent while my children preform. It was also good to hear that these questions and dilemmas are relevant even to parents of children in professional leagues!
I particularly like Elmore’s advice of what to say before the competition:
What to say before the competition:
1. Have fun.
2. Play hard.
3. I love you.
Elmore suggests to say these words after the competition:
What to say after the competition:
1. Did you have fun?
2. I’m proud of you!
3. I love you.
Elmore continues in his article to share what he learned student athletes like to hear the most from their parents. These student athletes loved to hear their parents say, ” I love to watch you play.”
Student athletes loved to hear their parents say these six simple words:
“I love to watch you play.”
To me this reassurance of what I need to say as a parent is helpful and encouraging!
I hope these words of advice from Tim Elmore are helpful to you, too. I used them last Saturday and watched as each of my son’s eyes beamed before and after their games.
Parents enjoy supporting and watching your children as they perform.