I never thought I would play professional sports.
My husband thought he might.
I made the misstep last night of telling our 12-year-old that the chances of him becoming a professional hockey player are pretty miniscule.
I struggled with the reaction of both my husband and my son as they told me I was a dream-crusher.
That’s the last thing I wanted to do, but I couldn’t quite understand why being realistic was such a bad thing.
It’s great that little boys have professional athletes to watch on television. It’s easy for them to emulate them and to look up to them as bigger versions of themselves.
Girls don’t have that. Girls know they are not going pro, but they play hard anyway.
Too many boys only play hard because they think that professional sports might be in their future.
It got me thinking, where is the balance, and how should I parent our athletes to become the best versions of themselves? I am contemplating this issue from the perspective of a mom of a boy and two daughters.
Should there be a double-standard about raising different-gendered athletes?
Right now I am of the mindset that there should not.
We have a sporting lifestyle because of the inherent good that can come from competing in team sports. Given that our son likely has less than a .05% chance of playing for any length of time in the NHL, his chances of going pro are about the same as his sisters. The chances of professional competition for any of our kids is so small, they should all be playing sports for many more reasons than a paying contract.
I don’t want to hurt our kids in any way, and my intention for the comment was to help him to know that we have no expectation for him to play pro. He heard it that I don’t believe he can.
I think it comes down to this: THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DREAMS AND GOALS
Dreams are healthy, and it is fun to imagine the possibilities. Goals take action and intent, and the approach to the pursuit of goals looks incredibly different. It would be unfair to all of our kids if I didn’t equip them with tools to pursue their goals.
I feel like I just spilled the beans about Santa Claus, and the structure of our son’s world has begun to reshape itself. It comes down to whether he believes he is chasing a dream or whether he has a goal he believes he can attain.
If it becomes a goal to play at the highest level that is possible for him, his actions and approach will start to look different. That’s up to him. All we can do is help him to build that goal-parachute one stitch at a time. And in the meantime, I’ll continue to encourage him to take care of that back-up chute too.
So here are the crucial questions:
Should I have waited until he was older to talk about this? Should I have let him figure this out for himself?
Has this scenario played out in your house, and if so, how did it go for you?
To learn more about Meagan or her current book project, Choosing to Grow: For the Sport of It, visit her website www.meaganfrank.com.
Copyright 2012 Meagan Frank Choosing to Grow