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Youth Sports Require Commitment of Parent's Time

Not only do youth sports cost a lot of money, they also soak up an incredible amount of time, both yours and your child's. While there are a lot of positives to sports participation, you need to honestly assess your level of commitment before getting your child seriously involved in any sport.

  • Honestly assess your willingness to make the necessary commitment. Before you sign your five-year old daughter up for gymnastics or figure skating classes, ask yourself you should honestly assess whether you will be willing and/or able to make the commitment in time and money that will be required five and even ten years down the road, when they want a private coach, private ice or gym time, custom costumes, and are traveling to state, regional, national and even international competitions. You don't want to be put in a situation where you either have to pull the plug on their sports career or, if you have to sacrifice more than you wanted to for your child to have a chance to get to the next level, be resentful that your child is keeping you from doing what you want so that you end up expecting, perhaps even demanding, some return on that investment of emotional and physical energy and money.

  • Consider logistics. Before you allow your child to play a particular sport, or on a particular team, consider

    • the amount of travel time to practices and games

    • your work schedule and that of your spouse

    • your child's school schedule and homework demands

    • carpool availability (especially these days, with $4.00+ gasoline), and

    • the needs of other family members.

  • Consider what you will have to give up. Consider what you and your family will have to give up as a result of your child's participation in sports (Friday night pizza, reduced allowance, church on Sunday, etc).

  • Before every season, assess your child's level of commitment. Sit down with your child before each sport season to make sure she is willing to make the time commitment required to continue playing sports.

  • Involve your child in establishing priorities.. It will teach her a valuable lesson about time management and get her in the habit of setting priorities. All too often kids seem to get the message from society and their parents that they can have it all. Setting priorities and understanding that you only have so many hours in the day and only so much money is something every child has to learn, sooner or later. It might as well be sooner.

  • Be honest about your own needs. If you are like most mothers, you want your children to grow and have new experiences, but you want it balanced with a home life, with the family continuing as the center of their lives. It is a myth that the extra income a mother earns outside of the home reduces children's problems: There is a bias in both the media and contemporary culture against stay-at-home moms that makes women feel ashamed of having conventional aspirations like marriage and children (one poll found that more than twice as many women thought the radical feminist movement had made it harder to combine jobs and family as thought the movement made it easier). It is tough for women to be honest with themselves about their own desires. Because society teaches women to think that changing youth sports -having it serve the children's interests, not those of adults - is difficult to obtain, women deny that they want these things, thus the goals become even more difficult to obtain.

Adapted from the book, Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports (HarperCollins 2006) by Brooke de Lench.

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