Monday, January 9, 2017

Throwing in The Towel Doesn't Mean Waiving the White Flag

Throwing In the Towel Doesn't mean Waiving the White Flag

As Seen in USA Hockey Magazine  December 2016
Dear hockey mom:

I’m having trouble with my 9-year-old son. He’s decided he doesn’t want to lay hockey anymore. I’m crushed. I don’t want to force him or push him too hard, but on the other hand, I don’t want him to quit. I am lost and have tried everything I can think of.Please help!

Heartbroken hockey dad

Dear Hearbroken hockey dad:

Ah, the dilemma we face as parents. We want to encourage our kids to try new things and have different experiences, but not at the expense of their own happiness or that feeling of “Mom made me do it.”

I remember when my son begged us to sign him up for karate, only to try to bow out three weeks later. We made him finish the six-week trial. Our philosophy has always been: if you sign up, you see it to the end; and your kicking and screaming will not faze us. He may not have attained that black belt, but he learned a valuable lesson about following through you’re your commitments.
 That’s why it’s important to find out why kids may want to quit. If it’s a negative social experience – say not getting along with a teammate – then it’s not so much the sport that’s the problem, but the environment. Talking with your children, coaches and other parents can often help to alleviate some of these issues.

It’s also good not to let your kids pigeonhole themselves as just hockey players. Most professional athletes and coaches say cross-training in multiple sports pays big dividends down the road. And at the very least, learning what you don’t like can be just as helpful as learning what you do.

One hockey mom – crushed when her son traded a hockey stick for a golf club – bounced back pretty quickly when she saw how his love for the greens got him pumped up in a way hockey never did. It also got him a free ride to a great college. He now has the potential to turn pro.

I also was happy to hear from a dad/coach, initially stung by his son’s sudden desire to swim instead of skate, do a 180. His boy is now swimming for his college team, and dad really enjoys watching from his poolside perch in a t-shirt and shorts.

As hard as it was for them at first, because they were the “ultimate hockey parents,” they found more joy in seeing their kids discover their passion and potential to succeed at something new and challenging.

Think earnestly about it – what makes you happy as a parent? It’s not the tape-to-tape pass, but seeing your kids follow their passion, putting in the time and energy, and ultimately achieving something they previously could not.

And seeing that happen makes any parent know, their little one is honestly a Great One. Sincerely,Hockey mom

Christie Casciano Burns is a hockey mom in Syracuse, N.Y. She is also the author of two books, “The Puck Hog” and “Haunted Hockey in Lake Placid.”