Home » Team of Experts Channel » Jeanette Twomey Jd » Youth Sports: Taking A Toll On Family Life

Youth Sports: Taking A Toll On Family Life

What's Important And What's Not

If you sense that your children's participation in sports is overwhelming your family life, it is time to take a closer look:

  • Family Vision.Write down everyone's expectations, under the heading "Things We Don't Want to Miss.� You can do this best with input from everyone at a family meeting. Be as specific as you can. Include the big and the little items, such as "visit our relatives,� "go fishing,� "ride a train,� "have real conversations,� "community service,� etc. These are the experiences that will make up the fabric and memories of your family life. You can weave a rich, textured tapestry.

  • Time Inventory.Track the time your family devotes to organized youth sports for one typical month. Block out on a calendar with colored markers, the "blocks� of each day devoted to transportation, practice, and competition. Highlight family dinners missed and invitations declined because of sports conflicts. Putting it all down on paper can be a shock, because of the increasing number of commitments families absorb without realizing it.

  • Family/Sports Balance.Assess the relative emphasis that you give to non-sports family life and to sports participation by looking at your vision and your time inventory and asking: How much free time does our family actually have? Are we making our "Don't Miss� list a priority? Do we have energy left over for important non-sports activities? Over the long-term is the ratio tilting more to one side or the other?

Finding The Right Balance

Awareness is the first step toward restoring a healthy balance to family life. Once you've identified the problem, you'll begin to see solutions. Here are some tips:

  • Consider each child's individual needs. Is their interest in sports in proportion to the time they're putting in? Back off of multiple commitments, if necessary, for some children. Even one sport every season may be too much.

  • Set limits. Put limits on how much family time you'll devote to youth sports.

  • Plan ahead. Be more deliberate and assertive about planning for family activities. Look ahead and identify the nights and weekends that aren't scheduled.

  • Set priorities. Decide which family activities seem most important in the overall scheme.

  • Be up front with coaches and other parents. Address the family/sports balance up front with parents and coaches. Bring the question up for discussion in pre-season meetings. Seek out teams with like-minded families

  • Keep a proper perspective. Most importantly, remember that you're raising a great person, not just a great athlete.