I love being a “sports parent.” There is nothing like the rush of pride, of excitement when I see my son step out onto the ice. However, as much as I love seeing my little hockey player having fun out on the ice, I must admit I am far from perfect. I have to constantly keep myself in check, as so many other parents do, to keep myself from becoming THAT parent - the one who screams at her kids or even at the coach when things don’t go their way. And, even though I’m pretty good at keeping that kind of thing in check, I also have to watch my tongue so that, after a game, I don’t let harsh, critical words slip from my mouth to my child’s ears.
See, as much as I love my children and want them to feel great, competitiveness and perfectionism are in my nature. They are things that were drilled into me as an athlete by my coaches and by my own parents. But I know, we all know now, that times have changed and that we’ve come to realize a softer, kinder, less serious approach to child athleticism is the way to go. I know all of this and yet I have to fight against the way I was taught to do things. I have to fight against the harshness and criticism that, regrettably, are in my nature.
I think what gets me through it, aside from the fear of being that parent- the one who everybody whispers about- is the fact that I want my child to grow up loving his chosen sport. More than that, I want him to equate memories of this beloved sport with memories of laughter, fun, and enjoyable times with his parents cheering on the sidelines. If he, instead, remembers this time as one in which he was yelled at and dreaded having his parents around, well that’s just a tragedy and certainly not the way I want my child to remember me.
So, I bite my tongue, I try to change my attitude when it’s slipping into negativity, and I remind myself that, above all else, I dearly love my child, and that, at the end of the day, is what keeps me from being THAT parent.