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“I know what I’m doing. This is my tryoutlet me do it my way,” my freshman daughter told me.

I shut my mouth, knowing as much as I didn’t want to hear it, she was right. This was my daughter’s time, not mine. My role wasn’t to make the choices on what position to try out for or even what opportunities and activities to dedicate her time to in high school.

I watched her do her thing on the soccer field that first season. That first day of tryouts when she pretty much told me to shut it and let her do her thing her way—that wasn’t the only thing she’d teach me that season.

She was a freshman, and not only had I been a high school freshman athlete once myself, which in my mind didn’t seem very long ago, it seemed imperative for me to impose my motherly advice. But as I took her advice and stepped back and watched her that first season, it was me who learned a few things.

In a world of competitive sports, I would have pushed for the teammate playing the same position as her being her first competition to beat, but she and her teammate taught me something different. There were three of them playing the same position with one on varsity and her and another splitting their position on junior varsity.

RELATED: My Daughter Quit Youth Sports: 5 Things I Wish I’d Done Differently

As her first season ended, I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor for her than the junior in the same position who took my daughter under her wing during the summer and was always so positive and encouraging. At the end of the season, my daughter asked to go watch the varsity in their playoff game just so she could be there at the end to congratulate or console her mentor.

The teammate she split her position with all season sat next to her on the bus often, and when my daughter had a great moment in a game, the girl who I said was her first competition was the first one to hug and congratulate her. As I watched her form these two new relationships with girls that could have been her “competition,” I realized in this most impressionable time in her life, my daughter experienced the power of girls (future women) supporting girls. What an empowering thing for her and them.

But as she found her way in this new world of high school, there was more she had to teach me. As a high school teacher, I’ve seen how intense high school can get for our top-performing kids. I’ve seen star athletes, club presidents, and honor roll students eventually mentally crash from the pressure and the more, more, more push they get from their coaches, teachers, and yes, most of all, probably us parents.

Now it was my turn to be in the role of the parent rather than the teacher, and though I should have known better, it was again she who reminded me that sometimes, we need to let them call the shots on when enough is enough and give them space to say no. No, I need a break today, this week, this season.

I watched her choose when to take a day off, a night off, and a whole weekend off for no other reason than she needed the mental break from the intensity of going six or seven days a week for months on end. It took me almost 40 years to realize I could say no, that I could take a break or a night or a day or even yes, a weekend off for no other reason than I needed the mental space to reset and reenergize myself. What a valuable thing to learn and practice so young.

RELATED: Youth Sports Parents, It’s OK For Your Kid To Be On a Losing Team

I’ve been the youth athlete, I’ve been the coach, and now I’ve been the parent on the sidelines with other parents for well over a decade. It’s hard as the parent to hold back from jumping in to dictate what should be happening on their journey. Just as one parent once told me, “It’s not our journey, but theirs.” I heard another parent acknowledge that her struggle with her daughter’s playing time in a particular position wasn’t a problem for her daughter but a “me” problem. They were some of the most honest, self-aware words I’ve ever heard from parents.

How much are we all guilty of this very thing? I see it time and time again. My husband and I are guilty of it ourselves. We, the parents, are the onesnot our kids—who often have the problem with where our kid is playing on the field, how much they’re playing, or the team or the coach. They just want to play; they just want the experience.

And maybe, like my daughter reminded me that very first day of her high school tryouts, we need to remember our place is in the bleachers cheering them on as they make the choices and decide on the direction of where their high school and sports journey is going to take them. This is their time, not ours. If we’re lucky enough and play our role right, they’ll give us a front-row seat.

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Angela Williams Glenn

Angela Williams Glenn writes about the struggles and joys of motherhood. Her book Moms, Monsters, Media, and Margaritas examines the expectations verse the realities of motherhood in our modern day digital era and her book Letters to a Daughter is an interactive journal for mothers to their daughters. She’s also been published with Chicken Soup for the Soul, TAAVI Village, Bored Teachers, and Filter Free Parents. You can find her humorous and uplifting stories on Facebook page.

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