When Your Sports Dreams Are Not Your Child’s

When it comes to sports, too many parents listen to the kid that still lives inside themselves, rather than the kid that is standing in front of them.

“Get out there and keep your eye on the ball.” The father pushes his child toward the field.

“But I can’t do it,” cries the child.

“Yes, you can. It just takes practice.”

“But I don’t like it.”

“Yes, you do!”

The child saunters off, head down, kicking at the ground.

Anyone who has spent time on a soccer field, basketball court, little league field, or any other place where kids are involved in a sporting event, has probably witnessed the above exchange.

Who knows what’s really going inside the child’s head? But it sure is going be hard to play a good game (even he does like the sport) with all that pressure from his parent.

Granted, kids do need that push to get off the couch and away from their digital screens. They need exposure to sports and the opportunity to try out various activities in order to discover what they’re best at and what they enjoy.

And that’s exactly what should happen. It should be what THEY like. Not what YOU as their parent like.

But we don’t live in a perfect world. And we don’t always have the perfect upbringing.

Because of this, many parents transfer the frustrations, downfalls, and missed opportunities of their youth onto their children, all with the hopes of giving the child a better life.

Many times, it’s a father who now wants to give his child what he didn’t have: namely, a father, who comes to all his child’s soccer games and helps out. This father remembers what it was like for him, the heartbreak he felt watching all the other players with their fathers. 

And now he intends to be there for his son, whether or not the son even likes to play this particular sport. He probably doesn’t even realize the pressure he’s putting on his son, because he never had that pressure. He had only the ache of not having a father present.

Then there’s the mother, who wasn’t very good at softball and always wanted to be better. She remembers what it was like watching from the sidelines, and she wants her daughter to be better.

So, she rides her child at every turn, forcing her to practice and insisting that she will like this game if she could only master batting, running, and catching. Even to the point of causing injuries. She is so determined to keep her child “off the bench” that she’s not hearing her child say that she hates this sport, or that it actually hurts to keep pitching.

And what about the father who was allowed to go to every basketball practice, and was damn good, too, but wasn’t allowed to play in the actual games because they fell on days when he had to go to catechism or Hebrew school? His father never let him fulfill his dreams, and he’ll be damned if he does that to his kid.

So he pushes him into basketball. But is it because this is what his son wants, or is it a chance for the father to change the past?

When it comes to sports, too many parents are listening to the child that still lives inside of themselves, rather than the child that is standing in front of them.

Please, look inside your heart. Are you that parent?

I hope not.