It has finally happened. I have crossed a line as a parent from which there is no return. This spring I officially became a soccer mom.
As this is primary season, I half expected the candidates in my area to greet me at the YMCA after my daughter’s registration for the spring soccer league begging for my vote. Thankfully, I haven’t heard from any of them yet wanting to know my thoughts on local politics. I’m even more thankful that my daughter is having a blast learning and playing soccer. And she is doing both against all odds. Her new found love of soccer is no small feat. Her ragtag team of feisty 6-year-olds has a 0-5 record and has yet to score a goal as a team (details, details).
But if you could see her on the field, you would never know she was an underdog. She truly loves playing and gives each game her best effort. My husband and I have repeatedly stressed to her that we just want her to have fun and learn. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe there’s a time and place for competition. But I don’t believe the Y soccer league at age 6 is one of those places.
Unfortunately, not all parents share this view. I have been disheartened as I have watched other parents place undue pressures and expectations on their children. For some reason these parents think that berating their children in public for their lack of soccer skills will encourage them to be better players. It is so hard to sit by and watch another parent discourage and break the spirit of their child. It has made me even more resolved to make sure my daughter has a healthy understanding of competition. It is okay to want to win, to push yourself to be the best you can be. But achieving those goals should not come at the cost of your child’s self-esteem and view of their self-worth.
As parents it is our job to give our children all the tools they need to be successful. Success in soccer for my daughter is that she is learning the skills of a new game, making new friends and having fun. And fortunately, she hasn’t figured out that her team is not very good! As she was getting ready for her game this past weekend, she looked at me and said excitedly, “Maybe we’ll score a goal this week!” I could not have been more proud of my little soccer star. Go get ‘em!