When my boys were babies and toddlers, my husband and I imagined our future days full of practices, games, and chauffeuring our boys from one sporting event to the next. We both played sports growing up, so having all boys, we assumed our kids would as well. So many of our friends practically live at the ball fields. They invest in lessons, private coaches, all star leagues, and select/year round teams, and while they are having fun and making it work, our family just isn’t like that. At the ages of three, seven, and eight, not a single one of our boys are involved in any sports related activities right now. I know things can change quickly, but at this time, they just aren’t all that interested in athletics. I also know that many parents would be disappointed in that, but we aren’t in the slightest.
In our parenting tenure, we’ve found it best to not force our boys into sports, or anything else they aren’t interested in for that matter. If they don’t want to do it, everyone is going to be miserable. Don’t get me wrong…we know sports teach some valuable life lessons, so we don’t discourage them, but we don’t require them either. Our boys have played basketball, soccer, and tennis, but they haven’t been passionate enough about any of those activities to want to continue them every year. We ask when signups roll around each season, but we let them make that choice.
In this phase of life, my husband and I are more than happy to let them explore their own interests instead of paying for things they don’t want to do.
I’m sure every parent whose child has been involved in any kind of extracurricular activity has experienced the unpleasantness that comes from dragging said child to practice and games when he or she doesn’t want to go. When my boys were involved in sports, they went to their practices and games pretty willingly, but on the few occasions they didn’t want to be there, it was pretty awful. We had to force them to play, and when that happens, they don’t do their best, and most importantly, they don’t have fun. Life is too busy to add more to our plate if it’s not something our children truly love to do.
Like I mentioned above, I know sports teach children lifelong lessons, so I know there’s a big value in them. As our children have grown though, they’ve each developed their own genuine interests, and we’ve pursued those instead of recreationally organized athletics. One of my sons is extremely artistic and creative. He would spend all day drawing and writing. He writes chapter books and graphic novels and creates all of his own characters. When he’s done, he illustrates them. Instead of pigeonholing him into a sport he doesn’t want to participate in, we enrolled him in art classes. He loved them! He was bursting at the seams to go each week. As he gets older, I can see him joining more creative outlets like band, chorus, or art club instead of padding up every Friday night. Regardless, we’ll support him either way. One of my other sons loves to play golf, and he’s actually pretty good at it. Since he’s still young, my husband is investing time with him teaching him how to play. We’d rather spend our money on junior clubs and buckets of balls at the driving range than on registration fees and uniforms for something he doesn’t enjoy. These hobbies and pastimes can teach our sons the same important lessons: hard work, dedication, accountability, teachability, team work, and responsibility, even though they aren’t a typical team sport.
I know it may sound taboo as a mom of boys, especially in the South, but sports just aren’t a top priority in our house. Like I said, I know that may change as they grow older, but right now, we’re okay with it. We definitely encourage extra curricular activities, just not in the typical form everyone thinks about. Our boys are only little once, and we want them to develop a love for things that truly make them happy, not something that makes us happy as parents.