As any parent knows, one of the greatest bonding experiences between a child and their parents comes with participation. Sports is a great area for parents to nurture and bond with their children. Beyond this, other parties become involved. There are other participants, other parents, leagues, judges, referees, and coaches. For the involved parent, this means there are many possible areas of concern.
This brings to us the question of what is the role of a parent in sport? First, the parent should establish the reason for the child to be involved in the first place. Is it an outlet to ensure they are active and exercising ? To combat boredom? For self-esteem? If the reason you want your child to participate is because it was your favorite sport at one time, then one should speak with the child to determine if the child wants to play the sport for themselves and not to please the parent. If the child does have an interest, then the next step is for the parent to decide if the leagues and coaches are professional and if their style of play mirrors your own values and will hopefully enrich your child’s experience . No parent would want to have a coach telling their 8-year old to cheat to win!
Next comes determining if your child needs coaching. For surfing, if your child reaches the top junior level, then finding a coach is a great idea. Especially if your child has sponsors and wants to improve their performance level. My next statement is a no-brainer, yet there are always those parents who do not know where to draw the line in regards to their involvement.
For example, it is the day of the surf contest and your coach has watched the conditions and has figured out that the left sand bar is breaking the best but not every wave is a good one. It seems that the 3rd wave of the set is breaking far enough out to give a long ride. The first two waves of the set are usually to small and shutting down. So the coach tells this game plan to the contestant. Once the heat starts, the parents begin screaming their own instructions and yell at their child to catch any breaking wave in the vicinity. The youngster loses focus and forgets the game plan and catches the smaller waves and they shut down. The plan was sabotaged.
My son attended Kung Fu classes and they prohibited parents from watching the training sessions except for one day a month. It was for the same reason. Parents were jumping in anytime the kids had to do extra push ups or when they were corrected by the masters. As for my involvement, I watched the first time and saw that things ran smoothly and after that I let the instructors do what they do best…instruct!
We live in a golden era that also has brought with it some “tin-foil” problems. With our access to so much information, there can be a tendency to confuse knowledge with expertise and a deep understanding of a skill set. For example, a commercial is viewed explaining about a medication on the television and if one visits the doctor; the patient wants to tell the doctor that they should be prescribed the medication. This can be viewed in many situations today. A person does some recreational target shooting and feels that they are an expert in gun control and combat fighting. All it takes is a visit to Facebook and one can quickly see how many of your friends are now psychologists, politicians, doctors, lawyers, priests, and counselors – all practicing without a license!
For a parent, it is rewarding to see your child do something great. Your role is to lend support to them to reach this point…and more when they fall short.
If anyone has had some issues with parent involvement or seen any odd ball behavior, please let me hear about your experiences!