Living through your child is not necessarily a bad thing. I think as parents, we all live a little bit through our kids. We remember our positive or negative experiences and we want to see our kids stay away from the bad ones and enjoy the good ones.
But when the conversation turns to youth sports, the phrase “living through your child” can take on a whole new meaning. Sports parents who live vicariously through their kids are usually over-controlling, pushy, and let’s be honest, rather annoying to the rest of us.
Often, parents fall into the trap of pushing a child to fulfill the dreams that they themselves never fulfilled. That trap can hurt the child, frustrate the parent, and lead to marital problems when couples disagree about whose dreams for their chlld should be encouraged and how.
You may be thinking, “I don’t know any parents like that,” and if you are, perhaps you should take a second look–it could be that YOU are that parent!
Living Through Your Child Looks Like This
You’re the parent screaming at your child from the sidelines to “hit him harder” or “you can do better!”
Please stay calm, supportive, and positive. Yelling at your child may be a vent for you, but it will most likely sabotage your child’s performance.
You’re the mom or dad that is involved in every single thing that your child is involved in.
Be involved in your kids’ lives, but not too involved. Give them some space to spread their wings and fly a bit.
You’re the parent who has no life outside of your child’s sports.
Find something you enjoy doing for yourself. It’s easy for your child’s sports schedule to take over and squeeze out everything else. You may argue, “But I enjoy it,” and I know I did, but letting your entire life revolve around your kids sends the message that, well, the world does revolve around them.
You’re the parent who forces your child to play a sport even when the child doesn’t really want to.
Be honest about this for a minute. Is your child playing only to please you? He may say he wants to play just because he knows that’s what you want. Look for signs that he is/is not passionate about his sport: does he choose to play when he doesn’t have to? does he dread practices and games? does he not ever want to talk about the sport?
You’re more upset about wins/losses/playing time/playing position than your child is.
Your child may be handling these situations quite well until you come along and start filling his head with ideas like: “why doesn’t the coach play you where you want?” “Why were you on the bench the whole 4th quarter?” If your child understands the why behind the what, he may be handling the whole thing better than you. Don’t mess that up.
Do You See Yourself in There?
It’s okay to admit it. You don’t have to spread the word that you’ve been doing it. Just acknowledge that you have, and make steps to correct it. It’s not impossible, it’s just dang hard because we all want the best for our kids. It’s just that what’s best for them is probably not the same as what was best for you.