by Christina L. Moreland
An amazing parenting experience memory popped up on my Facebook feed this week. It was during a time when my son was really struggling with baseball and wanted to quit the sport completely. The experience taught me SO MANY valuable parenting lessons that I wanted to share with you.
You know, kids learn so much more from sports than simply how to play. Important life lessons such as how to deal with disappointment, how to lose gracefully, getting right back up again, good sportsmanship, perseverance, determination, commitment, focus, camaraderie and friendship, time management, respecting their teachers and coaches, and so much more, are all learned by playing sports!
So, first I’ll share the memory with you, and then I’ll share the unexpected lessons I learned from it, and what we can all learn by watching our children play sports…
[Flashback to 2014] “Proud parent moment: Last week, Ashton who is in his fourth year of playing baseball, was convinced he wanted to quit. He wasn’t hitting the ball (likely from his eyes not seeing it) and begged us to quit. This was on the way to a practice, and we had a game coming up. We didn’t want him to quit, especially mid-season, but we also know he has a lot of natural athletic ability and we want to foster it. As humans, we tend to gravitate toward doing more of the things we think we’re good at, so I was convinced if there was a way Ashton could FEEL good about playing baseball or notice what he does well in it, he would enjoy it. The parent inside of both me and Lance struggled with the question — do I push this sport? Or, do I let go?
“We made a deal: we’d miss that one practice and take the full Spring Break off. No school, no baseball, but then we’d get right back to it. I explained to Ashton that his team was counting on him, his coaches were counting on him, and he couldn’t quit mid-season. He’d made a commitment for this season and he would have to honor it. We’d get through the rest of the season and then make the decision together… he didn’t have to continue baseball again if he still didn’t like it at the end of the season.
“So, at the next practice, the coaches gave him 4 chances at bat… Ashton is the fastest runner on the team and all of us were convinced that it we could just get him on BASE, he’d sail through those bases, score, and it would boost his confidence. So, we tried a new bat, one that was 4 inches shorter than his regular bat, lighter, and has a larger barrel for hitting. He hit two balls during practice and was eager to play his upcoming game!
“The following Saturday, he had an incredible game and hit a double, scored a run, and his hit allowed 5 runs to follow him! Ashton got the Game Ball that day, and his coach said, “Ashton, this is the most important game ball I’m giving today.” Can you imagine that little kid’s spirit swell up with excitement???
“We celebrated by letting him choose the restaurant on Saturday (Luby’s 🙂. The first thing Ashton wanted to do when he got home from school yesterday was hit balls in the back yard, so we did, for about 45 minutes! He was on fire and hit at least 5 over the fence!! He wanted to go back out again right before bedtime and hit more balls with his dad. Now he knows he can do it and he feels like he’s good at it, so he wants to do more of it…
“Sometimes we all just need a little encouragement to get to the next step in life. We won’t know how long he’ll play baseball — maybe he’ll want to do something else next year. But at least we’re giving him a full chance at discovering his hidden talents. This one decision could end up impacting him for the rest of his life. We won’t know, but it’ll be fun to see how it all turns out. 🙂
I’m so grateful to our amazing coaches for working with him. This has been a big growth year!!” [END]
Fast forward 4 years later ==> Ashton is STILL playing baseball. When I saw this memory come across my feed, my eyes welled up with tears because I realized how many years he’s been playing baseball now — 8, and how that one decision could have impacted whether or not he played these last 4 years.
So I cheer respectfully. We focus on practicing during the week and talking about strategy and situational type playing. When it comes to game time, we might remind him of a few key concepts, but our advice is typically, “Stay loose and have fun!”
You were a teacher, a preacher
A mother, a father
A lot less taker than giver
A keeper of secrets
And constantly making
Believers outta quitters
For all of your time
And your heart and your soul
You deserve a lot more than a toast
But here’s to you, and thanks again
When it comes to sports, I feel my job as a parent is to reinforce the commitment my child signed up for — make the practices, go to all the games, communicate with the coach, volunteer to help if you can, and at home help your child see his or her potential.
Reinforce that performance isn’t always the goal. For example, focusing on areas of noticeable improvement is just is important as teaching good mechanics and technique.
And they did! And it made all the difference.
It’s a crazy time commitment. But it also keeps us spending magical moments investing time in our family and in our children. Sometimes it’s the conversations you have in the car ride on the way to the ball field that become the most memorable and treasured. It’s often in those “in between” moments when our children learn the most — by watching us, by hearing our praise and encouragement, by sharing what’s going on in their daily lives at school…
And as parents, we learn, too…in fact, we might even learn more than they do. I know in the future, rather than seeing the constant shuttling back and forth to practices and games as exhausting, I’m going to see the opportunity in the moment. What conversation can we start together that will have us laughing in 10 years? What can I quietly teach my children by example? Outside of the game itself, what lesson can we all learn?
(Note: All images on this website are copyrighted Christina L. Moreland, All Rights Reserved, and may not be used or copied in any way without permission.)