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February 15, 2019
As a sports parent...
You'll Find What You're Looking For
*If you’re committed to finding all the ways your child has been cheated, victimized, or treated unfairly…you’ll find what you’re looking for.

No matter what sport your child plays, their experience will be filled with challenge and adversity. As a parent, it can be easy to focus on all those people who it seems are complicating that experience. When things are hard, but it doesn’t feel like your child’s at fault, it can be easy to focus on the unfairness of the game. If you’re committed to looking for it, you can almost always find someone or something to blame.

The coach is an idiot. The referees are blind. His teammates are clueless – almost as clueless as their parents sitting around you. Worst of all, all these people are capable of making decisions that make your child’s performance and his experience more difficult. One of the easiest things to do – and, might I add, one of the laziest and one of the least productive – is to adopt a victim mentality for yourself, or to allow your child to adopt one either.

Yes, there are and always will be plenty of challenging circumstances you could give in to. Welcome to sports. Welcome to life! The fact is, the more you and your child choose to focus on all those things that exist beyond your control, the less you're focusing on things that you can control. So what if, instead of focusing on all the ways your child’s been cheated, you start looking for their winning response to the challenge and adversity they face? If your child isn't capable of such a response, guess who's responsible for helping him or her develop it? That's right, you are. Of course, you can only help your child develop their toughness if you've first developed yours.
*If you’re committed to finding every fault in your child’s performance…you’ll find what you’re looking for.

While some parents have a hard time dealing with the faults and shortcomings of all those secondary people, others struggle more to deal with their own child’s mistakes. These parents usually show up stressed and agitated before the game even begins, almost like they're expecting the worst. Every inevitable mistake their child makes is met with an eye roll, a foot stomp, or an arm wave. Then each one is cataloged to talk through on the car ride home.

I know that if you’re a fault-focusing parent, your desire is probably just to help. You want success for your child, and you truly believe your judgment is an important part of making it happen. If that’s you, I get it. And don’t get me wrong, creating and maintaining a high standard for your child’s performance is a good thing. But you better make sure what you perceive to be a desire to help doesn’t actually become the destruction of hope. If you’re not careful, your incessant negativity might end up hurting more than it helps. Without some awareness, you can unintentionally hinder your child's performance, hamstring their passion, and even harm your own relationship.

So what if, instead of focusing on all the things your child isn’t doing, you start looking for some of the positive things they are doing? Words like “I’m proud of you” and “That thing you did was awesome” and “I love to watch you play” are empowering for your child. The more you choose to focus on filling him or her up with words of affirmation, the stronger their performance, their passion, and their relationship with you will become.
*If you’re committed to finding opportunities to teach, equip, and develop your champion every day…you’ll find what you’re looking for.

This athletic experience can be a challenging one, no doubt about it, for both a player and a parent. But this experience also provides opportunities for us to teach, equip, and develop our kids in ways we’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. There's no better training ground than this one for learning the lessons and developing the skills necessary for our kids to live their best lives, even long after their playing days are done.

Many of the skills required to be a champion athlete will also be required for your child to achieve real success in life as an adult – as a professional, as a spouse, as a parent, and as a friend. Learning how to give their best, how to keep getting better, how to overcome adversity, and how to be a teammate are just a few of the things that will help them reach their potential, on the playing field and beyond. Unfortunately, too many parents are missing out on all that today’s experience has to offer.

So what if, instead of trudging through another day and simply checking the box for completion, you start intentionally using whatever happens today to help your child take another step toward his or her champion self? Keep your radar up and identify what lessons today’s experience has to offer, and help your child learn to identify them, too. If you really commit to digging deep and cultivating your kid’s potential, you might be surprised what they’re capable of. Those who are determined to bring out that champion inside their child have a tendency to find what they’re looking for.

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