Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham
When our kids are young, we make all the decisions for them. We choose their clothes, schools, activities, friends, food and bedtimes. But as they grow older, we discover they have opinions of their own and we’re no longer in total control. We still know what’s best for them, but they don’t always follow our sage advice. As they grow older, it may be hard for us to give up control, but we need to so they can develop into their own adult persons. At some point, we need to step back a bit and let them take control of their lives, while hovering a few feet away, hoping it all works out.
What can we control? What should we control? What can’t we control?
We can control how often our kids go to practice when we are the ones driving them.
We can have control in choosing a safe environment and the best team and coach for our children.
We can control healthy snacks at meets and meals at home. We can’t control everything our children eat when they’re not with us.
We can’t control the effort our kids put into swimming, nor their level of interest.
We can’t control how fast our kids swim or the swimmers in the lanes next to them.
We can control how we react to a rollercoaster of emotions and try to be good role models for our children.
When we try to control their swimming experience, such as pushing for our kids to be in the next higher level group before they’re ready, our kids will lose interest or rebel.
By giving up control, we allow our children to take ownership for their decisions in their sport. Hopefully, they see a correlation between effort, hard work and success.
We can let go and let our kids know that their performance is not responsible for our own happiness. We really do love to watch them swim.
We can suggest goals to our kids, but know that ultimately their goals are their own.
What other things can swim parents control or not control?
Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.