Weve all been to those youth sporting events; you know the ones Im talking about. The ones where parents are living out their own dreams, regardless of what their kids want.I've found on many occasions that the adults think they want success for their kids but in many ways they want it for themselves. Just like many other parents, I have fallen victim to this trap one too many times. It wasn't until a certain eight-year-old taught me a very important lesson that I began to change my ways. A few years ago, I was standing at the starting line, or what we in the BMX world like to call "the starting gate." The night seemed to start off just like any other; after all, this had been what our family did every weekend for the last six months, yet on this particular night, something didnt seem right. My daughter had been on that gate many times, but this night was different. For a split second, I think I actually saw the panic and worry in her eyes. The green color to her skin, because she was ready to throw-up. The focus on her face to do the best she can, so that she wouldnt disappoint us. She didnt want to race, but she did it anyway. She did it because we told her to; because she thought it was what we wanted. My daughter was living out our requests and dreams, not her own. That was the night we decided that our kids will be the ones who choose which activities and sports they want to be involved in. My daughter decided for herself that BMX racing was not for her. She finished the season, her commitment, and then found her joy in dancing. One of the most important things we can do for our kids is to focus on their interests and try not to impose our own. At the same time, kids do need some gentle encouragement, because very rarely do they naturally decide to get involved in a sport or activity without some parental guidance. The most difficult part of this delicate balance is determining how we push and encourage without imposing. I think John OSullivan of Changing The Game Project said it best: We all love our kids, and we want the best for them, but in this oftentimes race to nowhere we call youth sports, our words and actions are not helpful to our kids despite our best intentions. They hurt performance instead of helping, and that make sports a place of disappointment instead of enjoyment. What I've realized over the years is that my kids are not simply an extension of me. Its important to pay attention to where I end and they begin. The three key common components to long-term participation in sports and other activities are:
It takes a village!
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