With two boys and lots of sport talk in my house, I can definitely appreciate this blog from Katie Bugbee, the global parenting expert and Senior Managing Editor of Care.com. There's actually more to these games than the games themselves. Please share the life-lessons you've learned from sports and activities below!
I’m not a die-hard sports fan. But as my little boy grows into a big 5-year old, I seem to spend a lot of weekends talking about –- and playing -- soccer, hockey, basketball -– and now, baseball. Admittedly, I didn’t grow up viewing baseball players as heroes, or even watching the sport. And recent doping scandals have made me look at these players with more skepticism than admiration. But after a recent conversation with a friend, I saw more value in this organized sport. Here are some parenting lessons I think we can all get from many sports, but specifically, this baseball season:
1. Life is a team sport. You can have the best day or game of your life, while your friends, spouse, co-workers or teammates don’t. But being a good team player means being aware of everyone around you. Supporting them and encouraging them. While it’s often important to put your own needs and personal goals first, you still need to root each other on. Together, we make each other strong.
2. Get back up and keep trying. The most frustrating thing about baseball (for me) is that it’s always on. When are they NOT playing? But the lesson here is that win or lose, strike out or home run, they keep playing. Yes, there’s only one winner, but if you’re not learning from each attempt at bat, you’re not really playing the game.
3. You’re out in three strikes. I believe in warnings. I also believe that if there’s a problem, I’ll see a pattern. And three instances is enough to detect a problem. Giving a strike, rather than an immediate punishment, gives my kids enough time to learn and recover. It doesn’t have to end in tears and hugs, like Time Outs do. It’s a warning. In most cases, we never even get to "Strike 2."
4. Strategize your next move – and your opponents’. One of the best things about my nanny is that she’s always anticipating our needs. (She’s better than some spouses I know!) Her father was a baseball coach. Coincidence? Maybe not. Perhaps we can all learn that in baseball -– as well as in life -- you have to read the signs of what your teammates need (as well as what your opponents are about to do).
5. There’s no crying – or pouting. Having a very sensitive son who only focuses on winning games (and needs a bandage for every bump and bruise), I still see value in Tom Hanks’ classic line “There’s no crying in baseball.” Shake off the sadness, anger – and even some pain. Whether its schoolwork, relationships or sports, you’ve got to keep trying – and playing through the agony. And if you’re not the winner, you didn’t “get the girl” or achieve the highest grade, you should still congratulate the person or team who did.
6. We can be friends with our rivals. We can always appreciate other people’s skills, even if we envy them. As a Red Sox fan, I can still value the dignity, poise and skill of Derek Jeter. If someone is good, they’re good. Don’t hate them for it. Instead, compliment them -– and be grateful that there is someone out there keeping you on your toes -– raising the expectations you set for yourself.
7. We should appreciate each other’s favorites -– even if we don’t agree. There’s nothing worse than a bad sports fan -- someone who feels the “H-word” (as we call “hate” in our house) toward other teams, and puts down their fans. We need to value our friends’ likes and dislikes, interests and non-interests. Not judge them or berate them for it.
8. Real men take family time. Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy just made headlines when he missed the first two games of the season to be with his wife and newborn son. He took Paternity Leave. And certain sports announcers destroyed him for it. One said Murphy’s wife should have scheduled a C-section so he didn’t miss a game. Another said seeing the baby born was one thing, but helping out his wife could be done by hired nurses. But Murphy’s one of the first baseball heroes I’ve seen in a long time. Amid drug and infidelity scandals, lately when baseball players make the news, it’s not for doing great things. Except now. Murphy chose to be home with his son and wife. He chose to bond with his baby. And he put his reputation in the sports community on the line. Hopefully, this has short-term and generational effects. The young boys currently idolizing these athletes might one day fight for the paternity leave they deserve -– and take it. Real heroes help us be better people. And Daniel Murphy is leading that charge. No matter how well he plays.
What do you think? What are the parenting lessons you'll be taking off the field this spring?