Parenting An Athlete

About the Book

A turning point in my coaching career occurred in 2007 that made me step back and take a long look at athletics today. The role of the parents’ attitude, the expectations, and individual agendas changed the course of this particular season. I knew then that I needed to make a decision, either walk away from coaching or stand up and attempt to make changes.

This book is my answer. Although I have been an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), high school and college coach for nearly 20 years, I am also the parent of athletes as well as a longtime athlete myself. While I have many experiences wearing all three hats, I have found that it is most confusing and difficult being the parent of an athlete. I live and breathe with many other parents of this generation raising young athletes on the brink of high school sports and wanting so much for them to achieve and be at the top. I applaud parents for being so engaged in their child’s life. As parents we feel we know our child better than any coach and see the potential for success and, possibly, greatness. We absolutely have their best interest at heart. We would do everything in our power to help them and would not in any way want to stifle their development. I know this. I have lived this. And I continue to live it today.

But there is also a downside. What has become clear to me is that while we as parents are trying to help our children, we may inadvertently be hindering them. We buy them the best equipment to participate in their sport. We send them to the best camps and clinics. We secure them personal trainers. While none of these extras are bad – in fact they are necessary in the development of the child athlete today – we as parents have an even bigger role as a role model who maintains a positive attitude no matter what the immediate situation. We need to be that parent who is able to spin adversity into a meaningful learning experience, that parent who allows their child to stumble and fall and then pick themselves up so that potential growth can occur. We need to bite our tongue in the presence of our child even when we feel they are being treated unfairly. I recognize that we, as parents, want so much for our child but if we are willing to be patient and allow the child to figure some things out on their own and learn from mistakes, they will grow and develop both physically and emotionally.

Athletics is such a great avenue in learning life’s lessons. Sports give you the opportunity to learn about commitment, responsibility, adaptability, respect, selflessness, and trust. You also learn about pressure, emotions, friendships, rules, communication, and challenges.

So why do we as parents try to pave the path of our children in gold? Why do we attempt to shield the adversities they may experience while participating in sports that inevitably could help them to grow and develop? This book examines those questions and others through relating my personal experiences as a player, as a coach and as a parent, along with the experiences of other parents of athletes, as well as coaches, and a family psychologist.

My hope is that in some small way this book will enable parents of child athletes to be better at parenting, by aiding in the growth and development of their child and helping them become the best they can possibly be both on and off the playing field. If this truly is our goal, then our attitude and our actions as parents will play a healthy role in the development of the athlete ... our athlete.

Copyright© 2011 Annette Reiter
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