Lack of playing time is a cause for extreme concern for many sports parents.
I know it was for me.
Worrying about playing time kept me awake at night, made my stomach upset and sometimes made me irritable and negative.
I suppose if it happened every season with every child, I would have gotten used to it, but the battles varied from season to season–sometimes there was no battle at all and sometimes it seemed like my child had lost the battle before the season even started. And this uncertainty of what each season would bring, depending on the coach and the team scenario, left me always hoping for the best and angry when it seemed like the worst happened.
There came a point, however, when I learned to make my peace with it and when I say that, I am not saying that I liked it, I’m saying that I learned to let it go and let my child handle the battle.
If you are struggling with your child’s playing time realities, then perhaps you can learn to make your peace with it too.
What does it mean to “Make Peace”?
“Making peace” with something implies that there is a struggle or even a war. For sports parents, the battle is often in their minds, as much as it is for their children in the competition as they fight against frustration over seeing their child sit on the bench.
Should they yell at the coach from the sidelines? Chew him or her out in private? Write the administrators and complain? Try to get the coach fired? (Yes, I’ve seen parents try this!)
To make peace means that you as a parent accept the fight your child is in, recognize that it’s not your battle to fight, and stop resenting these adversities.
Accept the Fight
Sports is competition, plain and simple. And that competition is not just against another team, sometimes it’s within a squad. It may even be your child competing against himself to improve his performance.
Even as you emphasize the fun in youth sports, don’t try to take out the “fight” factor. It should not come easy for your child. If your child never struggles, how will she be stretched to grow and improve?
Stop trying to fight against the “fight”! Let your child learn to take on battles and learn how to find victory in them.
It’s Not Your Battle to Fight
As you watch your child battle, you may be very tempted to join the fight. But parents, this is not your battle to fight! This is your child’s game, your child’s challenge, your child’s journey, and it will be your child’s strength, your child’s courage, and your child’s tenacity that see her through. Let it be her victory.
You are on the sidelines of the battle, giving support and cheering him on, but do not step over the line and start fighting yourself. If this happens, you and your child will not be the winners.
Stop Resenting the Adversities
The adversities–also known as difficulties, struggles, problems–are often seen as the enemy. But the honest truth is that they aren’t. The adversities are what will grow your child’s strength and resilience.
I remember hating the adversities my kids went through in sports; I wanted everything to be smooth and enjoyable for them. I still hate it when they encounter adversity and am still tempted to help them figure out a way around it.
But sometimes adversities are the best thing that will happen to your child. Your heart may hurt watching him face the problems, but with your love and support, your young athlete can come through stronger than he ever could have if he’d run the other way.
Those adversities may not be your best friend, but they don’t have to be your enemy either. Stop resenting them and pray instead for wisdom on how to help your child maneuver through them.
And That’s How I Made My Peace with Lack of Playing Time
The struggles are not over. In fact, I’m still making my peace when it comes to watching my kids battle through things. It’s not playing time anymore because my kids are 24,27, and 30. Now it’s job frustrations, career choices, and relationships. I continually look for ways to accept the fights they must face, let them fight it themselves, and not resent the adversities they face. It’s the only way I can have inner peace.
Is your child struggling with playing time? Are you at a loss to know how to help him or her?
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