I recently had coffee with a good friend who I don’t get to see very often. During our hour of catching up, she taught me a very important lesson.
Over a cup of steamy hot coffee, she confessed that she wished she did less for her kids. As we talked more about it, she said she would often let their chores slide because of their team sports schedules and running them off to practice and rushing to games.
She said now that they are in college, they no longer play sports. Lessons in the hustle got a bit lost and now they have a hard time keeping things tidy. Team sports have been left behind, and she wondered about all the things she did for them while they were off playing youth sports.
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This stuck to me like glue. There are lots of lessons to be learned from a seasoned mom, and I’m so grateful for her and those who have navigated the tween and teen adventures before me.
So, one sunny after-school day, I reminded my tween boy to empty the dishwasher as part of his routine chores. He knew he had soccer and was running out of time. He knew he had to empty the dishwasher, but he was intentionally delaying.
“But I have to go to soccer,” he said.
”But you have to empty the dishwasher,” I replied,
“But I have to go to soccer practice,” he said again.
“But this is more important.” He was flabbergasted as any tween would be, but he did it anyway. And then off to the soccer field we went.
Since then, I’ve thought a lot about that conversation with my sweet, wise friend who has already been through the thick of adolescence and transition to young adulthood. As a parent, it’s hard to not get sucked into all of the pressures of team clubs and extracurricular activities. It’s easy to feel steamrolled by everything—not to mention the exhaustion from it all.
I’ve been thinking about all of the lessons they learn along the way. I’ve questioned things like: How much do we spend on club sports? How do the boys treat each other? How is their emotional health impacted? How easy or hard it is to fly off the handle? How do they treat mom and dad? How much rest do they get? How much free time do they get? How do they treat their teammates?
There are important lessons and accomplishments in sports. Participation in youth sports helps build physical skills and provides opportunities, but more importantly, the skills learned along the way add to their toolbox as they build lessons for life.
Respect, self-care, rest, family values, and sportsmanship are all non-negotiable—they all go together.
So, go on. Ask your kid to help with the tasks around the house even when they have a busy practice schedule. They might complain for a moment, but they’ll thank you later.
Originally published on the author’s Facebook page