The Top 5 Signs You Might Be a Parent with “Unfinished Business” from Your Sports Career
We all know that parent, the one who many years later still can’t stop talking about their own youth sport playing days. Often these parents fell short of their own personal sport goals, leaving them with “unfinished business” that can sometimes play out in vicariously living their previous dreams through their child. Pushing kids through sports simply to fulfill your own sport dreams isn’t a great way to parent your kids, so it begs the question: Are you one of these kinds of sport parents?
While it’s very normal and healthy to support your kids through sports, it’s not recommended to steer your kids through sports simply to reach your own unmet goals. Examine the following questions and see how you stack up when it comes to vicariously living through your child:
- You often talk about your previous playing days. The topic of your previous sport accomplishments is a regular subject of discussion, often conjuring up thoughts and feelings of goals that were unmet and/or “unfinished business” still left to be completed.
- You sign your kids up for sports without talking to them first. Rather than working to understand what life activities interest your kids, you instead regularly sign them up for sports leagues — whether they want to or not.
- You regularly compare your kids efforts and results to yours. Instead of helping your child reach his or her own personal goals, you tend to rank your kids against your previous records and accomplishments.
- You ask (expect?) more effort from them than you gave to your sport. You demand that your kid work the hardest on the team and go beyond team expectations, yet you yourself did not regularly display these same qualities.
- You find yourself still having trouble letting go of the role of “athlete” many years after retiring from sports. Rather than fully investing in other, more age-appropriate life endeavors (i.e. family, career), you instead still catch yourself holding onto your previous life as an athlete.
Parents with unfinished sport business can be a huge burden and stressor to their kids, sometimes to the point where it leads to premature quitting. While it may be unfortunate that you didn’t meet all of your personal sport goals, it doesn’t justify hoisting those goals (and even loftier ones) upon your kids. Sadly, parents who don’t move on from being an athlete often deal with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and poor relationship with their spouse and kids. Rather than placing extreme expectations on your kids, see them instead as unique human beings with their own individual interests and goals. Additionally, if you think you match the criteria listed here it might be worth considering mental health counseling options in your community.