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Tips for Parents who are also Fervent Sports Fans

It’s so cliché for parents (mostly men) with backgrounds in sports to want their children to follow in their footsteps. But sometimes cliché sentiments are just plain true. In various videos on social media taken at children’s sporting events, there is plenty of evidence that parents often behave very, very badly. Full disclosure: I’ve been one of those parents. You can avoid being a bad parent-slash-sports fan. The following are some helpful tips that helped me change my ways.

Rein in Expectations

Many children have been crushed by the obvious crushing of their parents’ dreams for them, with regard to talent in sports. Do yourself and your child a big favor. Don’t push him or her to be like the greatest of the greats in whatever sport he or she is participating in. That’s pretty unreasonable, don’t you think? Here’s a news flash: When you do things like throw your child in the water to make him or her the next Michael Phelps, you are creating more trauma than motivation for success. (My child’s counselor said so.) At the same time, you succeed in making others cringe in horror at your parenting skills. Come on! Phelps has the most world records of all times, at 39! Let your child excel at whatever his or her passion is, largely at their own pace.

None of that Vicarious Living

Do not, under any circumstances, catch yourself living vicariously through your child. This is an obvious temptation for countless former athletes who came to the verge of seeming greatness and were then sidelined by a knee injury or some other devastating event. You are you. Be the best you that you can be. Let your child live his or her life, too. Provide all the inspiration and encouragement you want but without stepping over that line.

Make Memories that Inspire

Rather than pressuring your child to perform like a champion, it’s better to give them inspiration from true champions. For example, take advantage of opportunities to watch the sports legends you and your children cheer on at live events. Buying jerseys is all fine and good, but being at a major game and watching greatness in person can be unforgettable for both of you. It could potentially lead to a shared passion for sports.

Enjoy your Child

When you have children, you can never tell what their unique personalities and natural skill sets will be like. The best parents embrace their children without applying pressure to be someone else or something else. Children are a gift! Enjoy them, no matter how well they do or do not throw or catch a ball or do the breaststroke.

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