It is only in the last year or so that I am discovering the different types of ‘sports’ parent that are out there. I think the first time I began to observe parent behavior towards their budding young athlete was actually at a Track & Field meet last year. My elder son was in grade 3 at the time & had never done any track & field prior to entering that grade. As you can imagine it was competitive but in a fun way for that age group. In fact, my son came 5th in shot put that year, which was fantastic, & we expressed how proud we were, thinking it were the luck on the day… then he came 2nd at the same meet this year!
So what is my point, & what did I observe? Well…
- The ‘OTT serious I am living my own dreams through my child parent’ – They eat, sleep & breathe their child’s sport. Can irritatingly fuss over their child before they compete. Talks to them as if they are in the Olympics & appears more nervous & uptight than the child themself. Discusses equipment & training with other parents like they are stupid, & ensures the child NEVER misses a training session – even if they on a ventilator in the ICU!
- The ‘Interested, supportive & encouraging parent’ – Allows the child some space & promotes independence. No mollycoddling here, the parent will be there but the child must learn to take charge of their training with the parent watching from a safe distance, & always ready to step in when help or guidance is needed. Usually very friendly, chatty people who will enjoy & make the most of the adult social side to the sport.
- The ‘I like to be seen to be supporting my child’ – Will always be there appearing to supporting their child but really they spend the entire time their phone or tablet, or talking to the supportive chatty parents nearby. They can usually hold a conversation about the sport but are rarely able to be more specific about their child as an individual. They often have trouble identifying which one is theirs.
- The ‘passive’ parent – drops their child off at training or event, leaves, returns when training or event is over.
I would like to think that I am number 2. I have definitely not ever & never will be number 1. I have possibly been guilty of number 3 once, maybe twice, & I hope I am never number 4 (my parents were number 4 so I know how that feels). Tonight at swim club there were 3 number 3’s in front of me on the bleachers. I have them to thank for tonight’s post. At first it was amusing to watch/listen to, but after a while I found it quite sad that they couldn’t identify their children in the water, or, knew that they have 30 minutes of stretching after their swim session. They all appeared to have been on the club scene for a lot longer than me, & that wouldn’t be difficult as this is our first season, so they really had no excuse.
Despite sitting & writing quotes in my little quote book I was glancing up frequently so observe my boys progress & behavior. I knew that younger child had gone to the washroom & not returned for 10 minutes. Slightly worried I almost sent big brother in to see if he was ok, then I saw his head pop around the door when he thought his group was finished. When he realized they had 2 more lengths to do he retreated back into the changing room. The monkey later admitted he didn’t want to did the exercise his group were doing so he hid till it was over – which is what I suspected. This, among other observations I made throughout the session were discussed with both boys on the way home. They now know just how much ‘watching’ mum does even though she appears not to be looking.
Of course I am being very tongue in cheek about all of this, but have a look around, I bet you too find some of these parents at your child’s sporting practices & events.