You’ve got a challenging but important responsibility as a sports parent to help your child re-define fun. How exactly do you do that? Here are three ways to consider:
1) Lead by Example. Remember, you’ll have as big an influence as anyone in helping to develop and cultivate your child’s love for the game. Of course, what you emphasize with your words will help to shape what they learn to value, but the most powerful message you can send is with your actions.
Help your child become a champion by showing them what it looks like. Don’t be average. Don’t settle for what’s comfortable or safe or easy. Instead, let them see you push yourself outside your comfort zone…and enjoy it. Let them see you take the risks that accompany real success…and enjoy it. Let them see you pay the price that comes with accomplishing a difficult task…and enjoy it! Champions breed champions. That means if you want your child to become their best, then you’ve got to work to become your best, too.
2) Trust the Process. Re-defining fun is important work, but it’s not work that gets done in a day. Instead, it gets done through a daily commitment you make to the process of your child’s growth and development – one small step at a time. Be intentional about recognizing the opportunities that exist to help your child experience a deeper, more fulfilling kind of fun. They may be reluctant to dive in right away. When you’re used to comfortable, safe, and easy, who wouldn’t be?
As long as you’re aware and intentional about finding the right balance, you can nudge them into some new challenges and still help them enjoy it. They may be wary at first, and they’ll probably need your support and encouragement. They may also want to focus more on the outcome of their experience – whether it was successful or not – and you might be tempted to focus there, too. Just don’t forget to recognize the value in any experience, good or bad, where they’ve given their very best, worked hard to accomplish a difficult task, or taken the risk required to do something awesome. The more they experience it, the more they’ll enjoy it, and the more that new definition of fun will develop.
3) Celebrate the Struggle. Finally, be your child’s biggest cheerleader. Becoming a champion isn’t comfortable, safe, or easy. Neither is raising one. It will require your patience and your persistence as much, and some days, maybe even more than it will theirs, but it should be fun. If you aren’t smart, aware, and creative enough to enjoy the journey, both you and your child will probably end up settling for less than your best. After all, if you don’t love the hard work it takes to raise a champion, you’ll never be great at it – at least never as great as you could be.
What The LENS book says about re-defining fun for our kids can just as easily apply to the hard work we’re doing as parents. Yes, raising champions is tough, but it should not be miserable. The perspective our culture promotes has trained even us to think that difficult things are miserable things. It takes a very intentional, deliberate, and different perspective to create for ourselves the unique understanding that difficult things – like raising a champion – can be fun! Sometimes, the most fun.