It is our values that largely guide our behaviors.
If our children value sportsmanship, they will be sure to sportingly acknowledge the other team and referee at the end of a match. If our children value hard work and personal effort, they will likely put in a bit of extra determination at the end of practice. If our children value leadership, they will be sure to demonstrate respect to the leaders on their team and be strong leaders themselves.
We work hard to instill proper values in our children. We sneak in conversations loosely related to values at the dinner table, we instill them by utilizing words of wisdom as we tuck them in at night, and lessons in values are heavily laced into moments of discipline.
As parents, in fact, these may have been actual discussions you had with your spouse when your first child was born. What kind of parents do we want to be? What is most important to us when it comes to raising our child? What do we want our children to grow to value most?
We largely seek youth sports for our children as an opportunity for them learn lessons related to values such as hard work, resiliency, solidarity, teamwork, and more. And yet, too often our youth sports environment is failing our children in so many ways.
As parents, we need to take partial responsibility for this failure.
We have not demanded an environment that best suits the various needs and tolerances of our varied children. We have allowed too much stress to creep in, what amounts to unhealthy levels of competition for some children, and decisions to be made too early about their future in the game. We have tolerated bully coaches and crazy parents and we have allowed some clubs to not appreciate our contribution to our children's environment demonstrated by their lack of communication with us. There is too often a diminishing sense of community found in our youth soccer culture. In some ways, we've allowed ourselves to be tricked by environmental bias' towards children who are bigger earlier or assuming certain developmental pathways make sense simply because it's the way it's been done for so many years.
It's time for parents to ask themselves - not what do I want my children to value, but instead:
As a parent, what are my soccer parent values?
What are my non-negotiables when it comes to my child's soccer environment? My must haves when it comes to coaches, clubs, competition, and camaraderie? When we do this and let these values guide us, we will find the clubs and coaches who share similar values and our children will feel inspired and thrive.
To help parents in determining their personal soccer values, we have developed the 6 Soccer Parent Value Statements and we welcome you to ponder, reflect, and take them on as your own!