a surefire way to stink


Want a surefire way to stink as a sports parent? There's more than one way for sure, but here's one of the easiest: focus your attention on what your son is or isn’t getting. Each of us has to determine for ourselves what we choose to value and prioritize, and I’m telling you, if you want your experience and your performance to stink, then make his “getting” your focus. Is he getting enough playing time? Is he getting the credit or the attention he deserves? Is he getting a starting spot? Is he getting the role you want for him? Is he getting a trophy or award that acknowledges all he’s done and all he deserves? There’s plenty he can get in sports, and a lot of it probably seems important. But the more you make this your top priority, the worse off you – and your son – will be. 

There are plenty of reasons why a focus on “getting” is a surefire way to stink. First and foremost, it easily leads you into a victim mentality. What your son gets in sports is rarely controllable for you. Almost anything he gets will be given to him by someone else. More playing time, a starting spot, a trophy – as much as you might want all of it for him, as a parent you can’t give him any of these things. And when what you value and prioritize exists outside your control, like it does here, it’s easy to feel victimized. What are the by-products of that victim mentality? Usually you focus on the perceived unfairness of the situation. You convince yourself he’s been cheated. You feel weak and powerless. You blame and complain. You pout or sulk. There’s a lot you can choose to think or do, but when you’ve adopted a victim mentality, none of it’s productive. 

Here’s another problem with a focus on “getting:” you’re only seeing the small picture. Just because your son doesn’t get what you want today doesn’t mean he never will. But if, at some point, he's ever gonna get something he doesn’t currently have, then it’ll only happen because he continues to improve. His growth and development over time give him the best opportunity to get what you want. With a short-sighted focus, you’ll be less likely to see what’s possible in the big picture – through the process of hard work, commitment, and perseverance. Instead, you’ll be too busy dwelling on today’s perceived failure. And most people who are busy dwelling aren’t busy doing – especially doing the necessary work it takes to improve. 

Here’s one more reason, in case you need it, why a focus on “getting” stinks. Whatever your son does or doesn’t get as a young athlete – even something that seems really meaningful in the moment, is probably temporary. Yes, these challenges feel important today (especially with that short-sighted perspective), but they pale in comparison to the real challenges that will exist in his life to come. If you see that truth, then sports can become a great training ground for helping him develop the grit and resilience it takes to succeed in manhood. If you don’t see it that way, then these are opportunities wasted.  

So if you’re looking for a surefire way to stink, that’s it. Sure, your son might have his share of successes now and then, and you might even feel justified when you whine and complain your way into getting something for your son that he might not have gotten otherwise. But if you spend your sports parent experience focused on the “getting,” you might as well accept that some, and maybe most of your experience will be miserable. And even more disheartening? With your help, your son won’t come close to reaching his full potential. 

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a surefire way to succeed as a sports parent, then what you need is to change your focus. Instead of focusing on what your son is or isn’t getting , focus instead on what your son is or isn’t  becoming . In any area of life, each of us has to determine for ourselves what we choose to value and prioritize, and I’m telling you, if you want to succeed as a sports parent, then make “becoming” the focus of your experience. Is he becoming a better player and a better teammate? Is he becoming more resilient in the face of adversity? Is he becoming more coachable or more courageous? More reliable, more accountable, or more trustworthy? If this is your focus, then you’re headed somewhere fun and productive.

 What your son BECOMES > What your son gets

Why? First, if you believe in the power of your influence as a parent, then what your son’s becoming is controllable. As his leader and his guide, you are responsible for his growth and improvement. Will you have complete control over who he becomes? Of course not. He’ll have a say, too, but if you’re committed to helping him get better – especially in areas like his toughness, his courage, and his effort – then you should feel empowered. You’ve accepted a great responsibility in the life of your boy, and there is great purpose in being here today to help him learn, grow, and improve – no matter what happens. You’re not a victim to anyone else’s decisions. You know you can use whatever happens – good or bad, fair or unfair – to help him move forward and, whether he gets what he deserves or not, to become something he wasn’t before. 

Here’s another reason you’re headed for success: now you’re seeing the big picture. Focusing on what your son’s becoming means embracing the process. “Becoming” doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. He'll learn, try, fail, grow, struggle, change, and improve – it's all part of the process. There will be some good days and there will be some bad days, but all the days are tied together and connected to each other by a meaningful purpose – helping him get better. Besides, if you're committed to helping him reach his full potential, you'll probably like what he ends up getting as a result.

There’s one more reason, in case you need it, why “becoming” leads you to success. While what your son  gets  in sports is temporary, what your son  becomes  will last. All the fuss about his playing time, his role on the team, the trophies he’s won, and the other stuff he is or isn’t getting will fade away, but what he becomes will be here for good. All those qualities that you’re helping him to develop – the qualities that will make him a great athlete today – each of them will translate to the life of a champion he’ll be living soon in manhood.

So see clearly today what your boy needs from you. If he’s going to reach his full potential, he needs you to forget the “getting” and focus on “becoming.” Becoming a parent who can see the big picture. A parent who understands how the events and experiences occurring on the playing field today are preparing him for success in life tomorrow. A parent fully committed to the process of raising a champion. 


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