Letting Kids be Kids (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Father’s Day has me reflecting and reinforces my belief that being a good father is the greatest responsibility of my life. The most important job I will ever have is to instill good values in my children that will help them be happy and caring adults.

Baseball season just wound down last week for my boys. I’m a coach for Stone’s team, along with a friend of mine. These are eight-year-olds playing machine pitch baseball. I wasn’t there, but heard about the play-offs where mothers on opposing teams came up with different scores. The dads got involved and it almost came to a brawl, completely out of hand and unnecessary. This wasn’t even for the championship, just to see who would play our team. Ultimately, the champions would each get a trophy that cost no more than $3.50.  As ludicrous as this sounds, Junior Rodeo is underway and I can only imagine the potential for problems with buckles and saddles at stake.

These kids are seven- and eight-years-old and should be having a good time. I don’t think I’m raising a professional machine pitch baseball player. As coaches, we try and keep it fun for the kids and it’s disheartening to see parents act like this. It really makes you feel sorry for the kids because they have to be under pressure to win and that’s just inappropriate at that age. There will be plenty of time later for them to experience pressure in life.

We have to do the best we can with our kids. My job is to make it fun and let them enjoy themselves and play to the level they are. If they’re seven, let them be seven.  I see a lot of parents push their kids like it’s life or death. This is a kid that’s not even 10-years-old and they are putting the pressure of a 40-year-old on them. It hurts my heart to see kids go through this, playing a game.

At five- and seven-years-old, my boys really aren’t that interested in roping and that’s okay. I can’t put my desire to win in my boys but can let them see my work ethic, without imposing it on them. My philosophy is that some is taught, but most is caught.

When you start expecting too much from your kids, most of the time you’re asking your kid to do something you couldn’t do yourself. When you put undue pressure on a kid to perform like a professional athlete, do you think it’s a reflection of something you may have been lacking in? Oftentimes, the parents who push their kids hard are those who underachieved or under accomplished.

Most people who have accomplished their goals are pretty content with letting their kid be a kid. Those are the kids who are usually the most successful, though not always at an early age. When you push a kid too young and they’re doing it for you, they’ll be burned out and resentful of you and the sport. I’ve never seen a positive outcome from pushing your kids to compete like professional athletes.

Let your kids know you love them. Don’t rob them of confidence by expecting too much of them. Childhood should be happy and not a challenge.

Till next time, God Bless and I’ll see you down the line.