By JoEllen Parkey,
Wellbeing Collective guest blogger, mother, advocate, coach, and friend
Parents, when our children want something, it is almost impossible to say no. When your child wants to be a star athlete or a star on the stage, we all want to help make that happen. When our kids are willing to put everything on the line to get something, we become even more invested in helping them get it.
That is when it can get scary for our kids.
Adults are drawn to coaching and teaching for many reasons. Most of those reasons are pure: they love their sport, they love their art, they enjoy working with children and are willing to sacrifice financial gain to do so. Some of those reasons are suspect: self-aggrandizement, finding success as coaches that they did not find as athletes. Some of those reasons are sinister: gaining proximity to children because they are intimidated by adults, wanting to be the most important person in the room, wanting to wield power over others, wanting to prove themselves important because life has made them feel less than, and finally and most sinister, the abuse of children.
When your children have a coach or a teacher and that person is helping them get what they have worked so hard for, the adult-child relationship can skew and it can skew right before your eyes. A coach’s judgment and decisions regarding the sport or art do supersede yours. They do get to decide what position your child plays, which meets they attend, how often they practice, and what role they get in the production. But, be careful. Please always remember that coaches and teachers work for you - they do not replace you. Make sure that you are your child’s advocate and fiercest defender against the overreach that can happen in the coach/athlete, coach/performer, mentor/student relationship.
As much as it may feel like it in the moment, that adult is not the key holder to the only gate that leads to the only path to your child’s one chance at success.
Be vigilant. Be involved. Know what is happening at practices and rehearsals. Keep an active and ongoing dialogue going with your child’s coach. Make sure that both your children and their coaches know that you are paying attention. Make sure they know that, while you consider a coach a friend, even “family” to some extent, they are not a replacement for you.
If something feels off, if your child who used to love what they do starts to resist training, get injured more often that is expected, doesn’t want to talk about practice or be friends with people from the activity, make sure you are really listening to them and making yourself available so they can talk when they are ready.
Being a star is great. Being a star is exciting. Being a star is special. Being a star should not mean sacrificing your childhood.
We need to keep talking to our kids. Keep talking to each other. Be present. Be available. Keep our loyalty to our children, not to a program, a team, or a coach.
Together, we can do this. Together, we can do anything.
Thank you for joining us for today’s edition of Unsolicited Advice.
This is going to be great!