A Note From A Hockey Mom
Posted by Dean Holden at March 18th, 2016
by Gina Boots, 16 March 2016
Photo: Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press
As I sit here as a mother of hockey player who is hanging them up, a coach’s wife, a teacher, and ponder the ending of another great hockey season and the end of an era for one of our kids, I wonder what is the state of hockey or all sports for that matter?
Maybe it comes from the fact that I study behavior for a living, but I often sit back listening and watching parents, and wonder what is wrong with us and when did this happen? I have watched parents scream at the top of their lungs “No!” as their child is replaced during a power play and then swear continuously while pouting even as the team pulls ahead in the last few seconds to win the game.
I have seen parents approach other parents, and even the player themselves, to tell them we should start calling that kid BFI (old garbage company) for all the garbage goals they are getting and they should thank their kid for all the passes that were made to them to make them happen. I have watched endless timing of shifts – literal stopwatch timing. I have heard endless discussion of what the coaches are doing wrong coming from people who have never coached or only coached at a youth level, but somehow this makes them an expert.
I have watched kids make mistakes (they all do) and parents respond by complaining how it was various other players’ faults rather than their own kids. Or the mom that asked me why my 11-year-old daughter seems to stop all the hard shots, but lets in the easy ones. I could go on and on. When did the token crazy parent become the mascot for sports teams?
Why do we feel this is the right thing to model for our children? I understand we do not want our kids to be upset. However, why do we feel the answer is to protect them from disappointment and failure? Why are we not giving our child the skills to persevere and take responsibility instead?
They will get knocked down many times in life, and you will not be there to pick up the pieces. If you think you will, you are the reason companies have now had to write policies regarding parents of employees (yes, this is literally happening). Not all parents are crazy.
I have also seen great parents. When asked if so and so is nervous for the big game, they respond with, “We don’t talk about hockey. She doesn’t need the added pressure, and her coach is on the bench, not at home.” Or when asked by my husband (a coach), “How come you aren’t complaining to the coaches like everyone else?” they respond with, “If she wants more playing time, she better work harder.” What a beautiful way to respond.
They say hockey is a family, and boy is it, with the dysfunction and all. Be a part of the family, not the dysfunction. Remember, you are watching the game through the lens of your child, and very often your child’s strengths only.
You are not seeing the game for the game. Every child has a place and part to play on that team, and that part doesn’t revolve around your child’s strengths; it’s around all their strengths and balancing their weaknesses.
You are not watching practices. You do not know the systems the coach is running. You don’t get an opinion. It is not about you.
What is about you is what you are modeling for your child. You complain, your child doesn’t take responsibility for anything, because apparently it is someone else’s fault. If they are a horrible coach, then guess what, validate their frustrations and teach them to fight through and even wait them out like you would a horrible boss (because you will have one!). Remember your child is watching all of your good, bad and ugly behavior.
So let me explain what hockey has given my child. It has given her an understanding of what being active means; how to eat healthy and push your limits. When you get knocked down, you get back up.
It has given her an understanding that you need to learn your strengths and your weaknesses. You learn there is always someone better than you. Always. So be happy in your own skin.
It has shown her that there are unfair and even hurtful things that happen in life, but you either become a victim and blame everyone else, or forge ahead in what you can control and don’t let that hurt overcome you.
She learned how to be a team member. When her team was down, she was the first to say to put so and so out because she wanted to win.
She learned girls have issues, say mean things, but that is on them. You control what you control, and that is all you can do.
She has met lifelong friends and stayed out of trouble (which was my goal for having her play sports, by the way). She has friends she played a few games with in the summer from different cities and they still are friends to this day.
And finally, it has taught her part of life is knowing when to move on for bigger and better things.
She was blessed to be a part of playing a great game. Live in the positive and make it a great ride. Stop the insanity. Shut up. Watch your kid play and enjoy the ride. Because before you know it, it will be over. Let go of the controls and let them grow up. Be a part of the solution, not the problem.
<Absolutely brilliant article! Bravo! We should remember that first and foremost, sports are all about learning life lessons; fitness and fun are other positive offshoots. Keep the game in perspective and model positive behaviour… your children are watching your ‘performance’ closely and can hear what you say (not to mention read your body language!) Be aware! – DH>
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