Dear parents: it’s okay if your child isn’t interested in playing “your” sport

This isn’t meant as a critique, just a gentle reminder: it’s okay if your child doesn’t love the same sport you do.

Any local Recreation and Leisure booklet or website will show you that there are endless sport and activity options available to kids these days. This is great news – unless you’ve got pre-set ideas about which registration form you’d like to fill out.

Of course, you have your child’s best interests at heart. But maybe your own heart is still a little crowded with wistful memories of your childhood sports experiences. Maybe you’d do anything to recapture the glorious feeling of winning the championship and receiving the medal or trophy. Or maybe you have unfinished business, in the form of “what ifs”. What if you’d had better coaching, or more practice time, or lived in a different town? What if you had discovered the sport sooner or had avoided getting injured? What if today’s rep system, intense camps, and sports academies had existed back then? Maybe you really could have excelled.

The thing is, you’re not the athlete anymore – your child is. It’s time to make peace with your own sports history, and let it be just that: history. Hopefully you’re still active in some way; maybe you still participate or compete in “your” sport with other adults. If so, that’s great, and hopefully it’s a source of fun, stress relief, and exercise.

When faced with a jammed schedule of practices, games, meetings, and uniform fittings, it can be easy to lose sight of why your family is involved in all this to begin with. Ideally, it starts with your child, and her passion for the activity.

With that in mind, here are some other “what ifs” to consider:

What if you exposed your youngster to various activities, but took the time to figure out what truly turns him on? Rather than have “your” sport as the automatic choice, observe which activities he gravitates to. What does he play in the living room or backyard when he’s on his own? Who does he pretend to be? When the Olympics are on TV, which sport’s coverage is he glued to?

What if you considered your child’s personality and sought out activities that matched it? It might be team-based or individual, with a highly structured or more self-directed format. Brainstorm a list of activities that might complement her strengths (both physical and psychological).

What if you could avoid the pitfall of living vicariously through your child, and instead simply enjoy the experience of watching her play?

What if you took the approach that it’s doesn’t matter what activity he does, as long as he’s active and excited about it?

What if?