Dear Reader: A recent question from a father (“J”) who felt pressured by his mother to attend family events instead of his children’s sporting events led to lively responses on both sides to a constant and challenging parenting issue: The print sports programs focus on players and their parents who travel to games frequently on weekends and holidays.
I encouraged “J” to occasionally miss games to attend family gatherings.
Some of the readers’ responses are printed below.
Dear Amy, As a parenting and youth counselor, I can assure you that you were wrong in telling this dad to miss some of his children’s sporting activities in order to attend family funerals and other family events.
Your child comes first!
These children will always remember that their parents supported them. You will not be spoiled because of it.
Shame, shame on you!
Dear Amy: My husband and I were like “J”.
We have little regret that our children have participated in sport.
However, there have been a few occasions when we have chosen to have family reunions, funerals, and weddings because our children have athletic “duties”.
The fact that I can recall these missed events speaks volumes.
If it were the other way around, would I have remembered the “game we missed” because of a “life” commitment?
I doubt it.
I regret these decisions.
– Sorry mom
Dear Amy: I think it is sad and wrong that the mother of “J” and so many other parents try to make their adult children feel guilty for these kinds of problems.
J is now an adult raising his family as he and his wife see fit.
They make the decisions that they believe are in the best interests of their current families. This is what his mother did when J was a kid at home growing up. This is what parents do for their children and their families. His mother has to cut the cord and give her son freedom without feeling guilty. This is how life works.
Kudos to J and his wife for doing what is in their best interests for their immediate family!
– Supportive parents
Dear Amy: The “J” dilemma resonated with my spouse and me.
We recently became empty nests, spending years on the sidelines and in the stands.
If we had to do it all over again, we would have attended more family gatherings and planned more downtime.
Yes, I wish we had occasionally left our children idle and “just be”.
Playing sports and learning the value of teamwork and collaboration are important lifelong skills, but there must be a balance.
The majority of adolescents and young adults will not later become professional athletes.
Growing up, my parents insisted that my siblings and I must attend every family celebration unless we were working.
Unfortunately, because we as parents didn’t do the same, we spent a birthday and Father’s Day alone this year.
We wholeheartedly agree that missing a tournament or exercise to assist extended family members by attending celebrations or funerals would demonstrate important family values.
– learned a lesson
Dear Amy: A few years ago, my husband and I decided that instead of going to California with me and my other daughter for our niece’s wedding, our high school daughter should stay home to play a basketball tournament because she “a commitment” was made to the team. “
In retrospect, I’d make the opposite decision: the only thing she remembers about the tournament is that it made her miss her dear cousin’s wedding and she doesn’t share the memories of that family event.
It helps to take a step back and ask, “What could we think of this decision ten years from now?”
– wiser mom
Dear Amy: As a youth sports trainer, I just wanted to get involved on this topic.
I am a family person and fully understand family obligations.
As a coach, I think people think we’re tougher than us. I only ask parents to register in advance if they intend to miss events. I know we often have events on public holidays and that is definitely due to availability for trips with the free Monday.
I would like to express my support for the fact that, in my opinion, youth coaches are more open to dealing with scheduling conflicts than it seems. We just need advance notice so we can make sure the rest of the team has what they need too!
– Midwestern soccer coach
You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.