My genetically average kids

My kids are athletically genetically average.

I am ok with that.

We have exposed our children to as many activities as life, time, and money will allow.  

We tried hockey.

We tried soccer.

We tried baseball.

We tried rugby.

We tried dance.

We tried ballet.

We tried theatre.

We tried basketball.

We tried karate, Taekwondo and yoga.

Our kids were okay at all of them. They tried hard, they worked hard, and they had fun. Never the star of the team, but always a valuable part of the team.   

Should we have picked a lane and just focused on one sport, like hockey? Should we have looked for spring leagues, power skating camps, and hockey academies to accelerate and improve skills?

I don’t think so.

We accept what is. Sport for kids should be fun, not a job. We see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it ain’t the infinitesimal chance of making the NHL or the Olympics, it’s happy, confident kids.   

While dedicating weekends and weeknights to hockey wasn’t super appealing, the costs of elite rep hockey are staggering, from equipment to coaching, camps and even hotels at faraway tournaments. 

Could we afford it? Maybe for one kid, but I have four children. Does only the one that shows the most promise get to go, and we buy colouring books for the others?  

Don’t even get me started on the politics of elite sports, like hockey or figure skating or the crazy parents that inhabit those worlds.   

I will openly admit, though, that I do struggle with the notion of not pushing my kids in activities. If they show promise and interest, am I doing them a disservice by not making maximum opportunities available to them? I want my kids to know sacrifice, working hard, and dedication as cornerstones for a strong adult work ethic, but should hockey, for example, be our chosen vehicle for these life lessons? 

Because we have jumped around from activity to activity with our kids, never spending more than two seasons at any given activity, our children have never really had the chance to improve skills over time. Was that a mistake?  

Exposing them to different sports was important to us, but also important was allowing the children to choose their activities. Their sport/activity resume looks like a job-jumpers work experience nightmare, but it’s what they wanted. They would choose a sport because they wanted to try it, not because they thought it was what we wanted.  

I coached my oldest son for year at hockey. He loved it and I loved it, and he was good. Not great, but he enjoyed it. However, he was lukewarm when the topic came up the following season. I was worried that he might choose to play to please me, and unless he is bolting out of bed and really jacked for a 6 a.m. Saturday morning practice, I ain’t pulling teeth. So we chose not to play hockey, and he did break dancing that fall, with no regrets.     

I don’t want to live vicariously through my kids. I have a life and so should they: My ego is my ego, not theirs.

I was fortunate enough to play every sport growing up, and was pretty decent too.  Sport can be tremendous source of confidence and self esteem. Now, I enjoy sport for the exercise and social connections. That is what I want for my children, to have the skill set and coordination for many sports. Shoot, pass, skate for beer league hockey. Leave the left wing lock to the pros.  

TAKEAWAY POINT: Where is that balance of push and pull? Knowing when to encourage your kids to help achieve a higher level, or accepting what is, and letting them choose their own path of experiences? 

Although parents can be terrible judges of their own kid’s ability, you still know your kids best. Be honest, do they really love it? Or do they love it because they think you really love it? Forced participation can not only hurt the self esteem of your child, it can make them resent you. 

Every parent’s goal is a happy well-rounded kid. If pushing your child to excel is working and you are blessed with an elite athlete, then go for it. But for the rest of us, let your kids lead their way to happiness by providing opportunities for a variety of activities and experiences.  

Be a fan and cheerleader on the sidelines, with front row tickets to the best game in town. 

Until next time. . . .

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About the Author

Jeff Hay is a Kelowna-based writer, motivational speaker, parenting coach, and father of four.

Along with writing for Castanet, Jeff also writes for the Huffington Post, the Good Men Project, and the National Fatherhood Initiative in the United States. 

When he is not playing his favourite role of 'DAD', Jeff speaks throughout Canada as a popular parenting educator, working on his website – www.thedadvibe.com, and writing his parenting book for dads, “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home!

Jeff dedicates his life to improving the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible, and committed fathers.

E-mail Jeff your thoughts or questions anytime at [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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