I'm Involved in my Kid's Sport. Now What?

I’m Involved in my Kid’s Sport.  Now What?

Kids and sports.  What a tricky subject.  And yet sports are so accessible in our country for boys and girls of all ages and abilities, it would be a shame to not take advantage of the life lessons imbued in team sports. 

Last weekend, I was fortunate to be able to attend the World’s Archery Championship in Myrtle Beach, SC.  World’s, mind you!  These were the best of the best.  The best teams that made it to regionals, then states and now world’s. 

Two of my friends’ grandchildren were participating so I, of course, wanted to see them, and wanted to see what this archery was all about.  Remember, my girls were swimmers and softball players.  Imagine walking into a gigantic gym where 4200 kids shoot bows and arrows over 3 days.  I was a little afraid to walk in!  But, it was all organized with rules out the ying yang, bleachers for the parents and everyone kind of finding their way around.  Yes, they all had their own bow and arrows and cases (some fluorescent, which would have been my choice.)  All the family members were there with the t-shirts, little siblings, and pride showing everywhere.

I watched three kids participate.  One was young. She was happy go lucky; last to finish shooting in every round.  She seemed to be taking it all in stride, not too impressed.  Her older sister, however, looked like a competitive little thing.  She stood straight as an arrow (no pun intended), got in the rhythm within her shooting, focused all the way.  She shot very well.  Highest score for her in a competition.  The last one I watched, he seemed nervous all around.  Looking around in between shots (for support and encouragement, I’m sure).  He didn’t shoot well, for him.  Afterwards, he figured his score and was so disappointed.  I was disappointed for him.  How could we make it all better?

Which of these kids will go on to be a success in life?  All of them!!

Why?  Because they had the support of their parents, their grandparents and their friends that came all that way and made all the arrangements for them to be at that competition.  They had taken them to so many practices, had bought them the right equipment, and had bonded with the team parents.  They were committed.  That doesn’t get lost on a child at an impressionable age.  And going to the World’s in anything is something to always remember.  My daughter went to Junior Olympics. She didn’t win gold.  In fact, I don’t really remember how she did.

In Youth athletics, winning gold is not really what it is all about. 

Listen, parents, if your child shows an interest in a sport, go for it.  If they seem to be talented, even better.  But temper your enthusiasm.  No need to get too excited. 

No need to go out and buy the best and brand new of everything they need. 

I actually played softball for my sorority in college with my cousin’s glove.  Carolina started out with her dad’s.  I mean, they are broken in, right?  Carolina never got an “aquablade” swimsuit until JO’s while some of her friend wore theirs in the hot tub of the hotel pool.  We didn’t even go to the full weekend competitions until we got to the end of year championships.  We would pick one day to compete.

And your participation needs to be tempered, as well. 

Your job is to be there! 

You can clap and cheer if something goes right.  If something goes wrong, be quiet.  Most of all, before the age of high school, never coach!!!  Leave that up to the coaches.  Really.  If you really have to make a comment, talk to the coach and let him/her take care of it.

Be realistic and I mean really realistic.  Youth sports is mostly for participation and developing natural skills. 

The odds are your child will not play college sports or after. 

We just had the US Olympic trials in swimming.  Over 250,000 children swim competitively in the US.  And every four years, 52 go to the Olympics.  52!!  And Michael Phelps every time!

So, let your child find their sport.  Let your child develop at their own pace. Take you own ego out of it.  Be there for all the kids.  Don’t get involved in games or matches.  If something goes amiss, address it later.

Enjoy it all!  Trust me, the memories are priceless when they are grown.

Good Luck to my little Archers!! Do they have that in the Olympics?

My Daughter Might Need Birth Control. Now What?

Do I really have to face this?  Or if I pretend that teenage sexual activity doesn’t happen, will it all take care of itself? 

Yes and No!  I know it is tough.  But, if you read my previous blog on sex and teenagers, you might remember that if your teen has been having a serious relationship for as little as two months (I know, it is a short amount of time), talk of sex and related activities is going on . 

And that means you, as the parent, needs to get into action. 

For all the bad press about Planned Parenthood in the news this year, one thing they do offer is birth control for teens without their parents’ knowledge.  This is a good thing.  Especially if teens are afraid of their parents or have very reactive parents that don’t really want to accept the realities of teenage sexual relationships.

Yet, an even better path for teenagers, I believe, is for you, the parent to broach the subject and guide your teen through it.  I raised two daughters, so I’ve been through this.  I am also a realist.  I’ve heard many times, a mother will say, “If I take her for birth control, it means I approve of what she is doing.”  No, it doesn’t.  It is protecting your child’s health and her future.  It is definitely within your rights to express your views and beliefs on sex before marriage, but you have the luxury of hindsight.  Because men and women are marrying much later now, it makes sense that most sexual activity will begin before one is ready for marriage. 

When I faced this, not knowing what else to do, I approached my OB/GYN PA and she encouraged me to bring my daughter in.  She told me she saw girls from all the schools and every social status.  She told me that sometimes they will have a sexual relationship and then, in the relationships that come after, they decide not to engage in sex.  She assured me that it would all be all right.  So, I trusted her to handle the situation. 

I also had a teen cousin being raised by her grandmother.  I could see where things were going, so I just talked to the teen directly.  I asked her if she wanted to take care of the birth control herself or see a doctor.  In saying this, I was acknowledging without saying directly that I knew what was going on and I was also saying that birth control was required.  And I gave her some power in making the decision herself with some support.  She said that she did want to go to the doctor.  I then asked her if she wanted to tell her Granny this, or did she want me to tell Granny?  She said she wanted me to talk to Granny.  And I did.  Her grandmother made the appointment and all went well.  It took the pressure off both of them, while preventing an unwanted pregnancy, a potential abortion or adoption, and protecting the child’s health.

So, please guide your child through this phase.

Don’t say things like, ”Those two are just friends.”  “They’re too young to even be thinking about sex.”  Or the worst, “She better not be doing anything!’  Trust me, that is not helpful.  And it is naive. 

Observe your child and their relationships.  If you have good verbal rapport, ask them in a non-threatening way.  If not, make some realistic assumptions and give them options.  As always, I recommend that you keep to yourself your own sexual history.  It is not relevant and may not come across as you intend. 

Teenage sexual activity is a reality.  Expect it.  Look for it.  Guide your children through it.  They may never say it, but I know they thank you.