As kids grow toward adolescence, the wide open days of early childhood seem to grow fewer as kids’ schedules fill up with sports, music, clubs and a whole new kind of social life. The apron strings fray a bit as many parents find themselves doing more driving to and from activities but less sharing of those activity experiences. This evolution toward independence is normal, but families can benefit when parents are able to remain involved in their kids’ activities long into their teenage years.
Parenting on and off the Court
Tim May, a Vancouver father of three kids ages 13-18, has coached well over 30 of his kids’ sports teams over the years at Firstenburg Community Center through Vancouver Parks and Recreation. He loves participating with his kids, but he acknowledges that being dad and being coach must necessarily be distinguished. “There is something about a coaching persona that I have that is a little different than being dad or [at my job as] creative director,” May says. “[As coach] you only have an hour with them and there is a lot that you want to try to teach in an hour . . . You are walking a line between making practice challenging and fun.” He adds, “’Coach mode’ doesn’t follow me home.”
The benefits of May’s involvement with his kids’ sports was especially apparent when, one season, a kid with special needs joined the basketball team. “That season was very challenging,” May says, “because he couldn’t operate on the same level as all the other kids. From a coaching perspective there is a real challenge in knowing that you are trying to get ten kids on the same page but one of them isn’t able to be on that page. One of them isn’t going to get the strategy of why we are going to do certain things. But . . . it was a good opportunity for the kids on the team to see, ‘Oh, it’s our job to help him.’ There was a really nice level of learning there where I think the best came out in a lot of those boys and there were some really nice things said from the mother. That season they were able to see there are more important things than winning . . . That’s building skills way beyond the value of sports. You’re learning interpersonal skills. You’re learning the kind of value of inclusion.” These are the same values that May wants his own kids to learn off the court.
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