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3 Reasons It's OK Not To Be At Every Single Game

Apr 19 2016

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It's a question that plagues most parents; should you go to all of your child's games? For some parents missing a game is NOT an option, but what if you simply cannot make a game, or two or three?

In the book Whose Game Is It Anyway: A Guide To Helping Your Child Get the Most From Sports co-author Dr. Ginsburg replies to the question "should I go to all of my children's games":

Many parents feel they are not good parents if they miss their children's games. So what do our kids want? In our research on this very question, we learned that almost 100% of youth soccer-playing kids ages 7 to 14 wanted their parents to attend their games. Our kids want us to watch them play, to witness the wins and losses, the accomplishments and the disappointments. 

That's why many parents feel guilty if they have to miss a game. We hate to disappoint our children and we hate the thought of missing their successes and accomplishments. I really think that we hate missing their games more than they hate for us to miss their games. 

However, attending every game isn't always practical for parents and quite honestly parents, you need to stop feeling guilty if you can't make every single game. Here's a few reasons why that's okay:

Reason #1: The kids are playing sports for themselves, not you

Parents have a tendency to take over youth sports, making it all about what they want when all their child really wants is to have fun and play with friends. 

Parents, youth sports is for the kids, not for us. They don't play to stroke our egos because they are skilled, or to provide us with an outlet for our own frustrated athletic attempts. 

Your kids should be playing for themselves. If you have to miss a game here and there, be sure they understand that. Your absence is a reminder to them and to you that this is their sports journey, not yours. Don't risk life and limb to be there on time or neglect an important obligation because you can't stand to miss one game. 

Reason #2: Sometimes parents are a distraction

Perhaps your child has actually said he would prefer if you don't come to his sporting event. This can happen as kids get older and the competition stiffens. Your young athlete may be nervous playing in front of you if s/he knows you are going to critique performance rather than just support. 

In extreme cases, kids may feel that their parents are a distraction because they cheer or yell during the games. Much of the time, children are tuned into how you behave during games, so the most common sentiment from more competitive and older children is "it's okay to come to my games, but be a good fan not a distraction."

Reason #3: Your kids are more likely to play sports longer

There is a connection between youth sports burn-out and parental over-involvement. That over-involvement may be seen as parents yelling at coaches, officials and players during the game, or when parents take it upon themselves to fight their kids' battles by confronting the coach about playing time or position battles. 

Over-involvement may also show itself in the car after the game when parents give critical "feedback" with the intent of helping their child improve. 

Kids whose parents are over-invloved become more concerned about pleasing mom and/or dad than with playing the game. In other words, they play for approval instead of enjoying the competition. Sometimes missing a game is just a small reminder to your child that it's their sport, not yours. They are the ones playing and learning and having fun, not you. So if you have to miss a game, don't beat yourself up. 


Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach's wife, writes a sports parenting blog called jmbthinks.com Her new booklet 11 Habits for Healthy and Positive Sports Parents is available on Amazon.


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