The Most Important Lessons I Learned When My Kids Moved on to College
Now that my kids have all gone to college, it’s funny to look back at all the pictures from when they were still in elementary school and playing in youth soccer leagues. Without all the hustle and bustle of shuttling them to and from practice, I now have a bit more time on my hands now, and that’s allowed me to reflect and reminisce on the first couple years that I took them to soccer practice.
All this quiet introspection has helped me realize a few important lessons from my time being a fulltime soccer parent. If you are new to the complexities of youth soccer, these lessons may help you stop and appreciate the moment more. It went by so quickly, and it definitely left me over-stressed, but I wouldn’t trade a thing for those memories. Even if your child has been participating in youth soccer for a more than a couple years, some of these tips may be helpful as you get up early on Saturday morning and drive them to the soccer field.
Help Them Make as Many Memories as They Can
Not all of my kids wanted to start playing soccer, and for some, it took a little convincing to keep them from quitting after they got started. Looking back it at now, it wasn’t that soccer specifically was so important, but I believe it was really important to get them involved in an organized sport or activity. They were able to make many new friends that they wouldn’t have met in our neighborhood, friends that they still have. Learning how to be a teammate and a leader was tremendously useful for all of them, and though they haven’t all thanked me yet, I’m sure they’ll thank me eventually.
In those years, they made so many memories, and even now my kids can easily recollect their old soccer teams in fourth grade and the tournaments they lost before they had even entered middle school. Their childhoods were much richer for soccer and organized sports, and I’m glad I pushed them—a little—and got them to do something active and fun after school and on the weekends.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
In the moment, there were so many stressors. Conflicts with the coach and other parents were particularly annoying, and there were more than a few arguments that I regret. In addition, the outcome of games and the bad calls made by referees seemed so important to me at the time, and I left soccer games upset almost as often as I left them happy. However, when I look back at it now, all those arguments and disputes seem so trivial. The memories that stand out are the good ones: practicing with my sons in the backyard and taking the team for pizza after a big game. All the rest was noise and wasn’t worth my time or energy.
Make Sure They’re Having Fun
Though I said it’s important to push them to get involved, it’s equally important that they are doing something they enjoy. Luckily, all of my children gradually came to love soccer and being part of a team. Of all the memories that do stick, the images of them smiling after scoring a goal—or saving one—are what I remember the most.
Join in and Get Involved
Initially I stayed at arm’s length with their soccer activities. I took them to practice, waited, and then brought them home. Eventually I got more involved, even helping to coach one of my son’s teams, and that made the experience so much richer for both of us. Don’t be afraid to get involved. These experiences are meant to be shared!
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