Supporting Your Child’s Dream Doesn’t Always Look Like You Think it Does

Dreams are great! Right…

I dreamt BIG all my life.

And I hope my children have big dreams in life.

Dreams fuel our passion to do great things and become greater versions of ourselves.

But parenting our children’s dreams in today’s sporting culture is not easy!

Maybe your 8 year old son wants to be a quarterback in the NFL.

Or your 12 year old wants to win an olympic gold medal in swimming.

Or maybe it’s your 17 year old daughter that wants to play division one college basketball next year.

Too often I see parents operating at completely different extremes when it comes to their children’s dreams.

The parent is over supportive and controlling by investing an unhealthy amount of time and money into making their dream a reality.

The parent is living vicariously through their kid by tying their own happiness and self worth to their child’s achievement.

The parent is living in some alternate reality where they believe their kids average effort, ability, and attitude are enough to earn them a college scholarship.

Supporting your child’s dream is challenging and sadly many parents are misguided in today’s sporting culture.

10 Ways to Support Your Child’s Dreams

  1. “I love to watch you play.” The simplest and best thing to say after your child’s game. Stop analyzing the game or telling your child what they need to do next time. Let the coach do their job. You just let your child know that you enjoy being being there to support them. Even if they stunk!
  2. Let them take control of their training.Offer support to get them to practices, the gym or park. Maybe install a net or a hoop in the backyard. But it is not your job to hold them accountable to their training.
  3. Praise their effort and attitude. It will help develop a growth mindset. Stop praising results and posting on social media every time your child wins a game or scores a goal.
  4. Let them quit. At the end of the season. NOT mid season when things aren’t going well. If they are not enjoying their sport anymore maybe they need a break or maybe it just isn’t their dream anymore!
  5. Encourage balance. Multiple sports, academic clubs, drama club, a summer job, or learning to play a musical instrument.
  6. “Everything is an opportunity to learn and grow.”Maybe their coach stinks. Maybe their teammates stink. Maybe the referees stink. Maybe everybody stinks but them! Irregardless of the circumstances, remind them they are in control of their attitude and effort, it is up to them if they choose to grow through the experience.
  7. Choose a healthy environment. If you are selecting a college or a high school, look for the one that values your child as a person, not just as a an athlete.
  8. Chase YOUR dreams. If your child has seen you chase your dreams and persevere through struggles they are more likely to follow their dreams.
  9. The reality check. Occasionally your child may need a reality check. If they are still banking on that college scholarship in a couple years, but they aren’t putting in the time and effort to get there, then they may need you to share some hard and honest truths.
  10. Avoid the exposure trap. Everyone wants their kid on the travel team with the most exposure to college coaches. When your child is good enough they will find them. In the meantime look for the environment that is going to promote their development and learning as an athlete and person.

-J.P. Nerbun