Should I go to all my children's games?

This is a fascinating question because times are so different now. Our parents came to the games when they could. If they had a commitment, it wasn't a big deal to miss the game. Now, many parents feel they are not good parents if they miss any of their children's games. So what do our kids want?

In our research on this very question, we learned that almost 100% of youth soccer-playing-kids ages, 7-14, wanted their parents to attend their games. Our kids want us to watch them play, to witness the wins and losses, the accomplishments and the disappointments. That said, it is also OK for us as adults to have our own lives, to miss a few games here or there. In fact, having a life outside of our children's sport experiences is healthy.

One potential problem with attending every game is that our lives as adults become organized around our children's athletic career and schedule. While going to games with other adults can be a fun and socially rewarding experience while watching our kids play, it can also place a fair amount of importance and weight on our children to play for us and not for themselves. Ideally, we want to avoid the situation where the event of the game becomes more important than just watching our kids play. And, there may be situations when our children would prefer that we don't come to their games.

As children get older and the competitive environment intensifies, some athletes may feel nervous playing in front of their parents for a variety of reasons. In extreme and mostly rare cases, children may find that we can be a distraction, either through how we cheer or, at times, yell during games. More often than not, our children are tuned into how we behave during games, so the most common preference from our more competitive and older children is, "Come to my games, but be a good fan; avoid being a distraction."

In the end, it is important for us as parents to understand what our kids want, how they feel about us attending their games, and how they prefer us to behave while watching. We can get these answers by asking our children directly. Is it OK with you if I miss a game? How would you like me to be when coming to your games? Their answers can be quite helpful and illuminating.




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