Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones and you’ll never hear your child complain, “I don’t have a life!” With heavy loads of homework, demanding practices and long meets, your child may face ongoing conflicts with his or her schedule.
It wasn’t until my daughter was a senior in high school that she realized she didn’t have a life. She faced more than a few conflicts that busy year. She was devastated when senior grad night at Disneyland was scheduled the same weekend as her high school championship meet, called CIF.
I told her, “You know, you can choose grad night.” She looked at me in horror. “Of course I can’t. I’m a swimmer. Life’s so unfair.”
My daughter had sacrificed Friday night football games, concerts, and grad night to pursue her swimming goals. She was repeatedly telling “normal” friends, “No, I have practice or a meet.”
Here are six tips on what you can do if your child tells you, “I don’t have a life.”
It may be a fleeting thought or normal grumbling of a tired teenager. They probably love swimming and have no intention of quitting.
Let them know they are right.
Swimmers have less free time than most teenagers. Acknowledge their feelings and tell them you’re proud of their sacrifices.
Remind them about the good times.
Swimmers have tons of fun hanging out with teammates, traveling to meets, bonding with a group of kids they might not otherwise know. They lead a life that other kids dream about.
Let your swimmer make choices.
Having more control over their schedules will help prepare them for college. Do they need all AP classes? Would it hurt them to go out with friends once in awhile? They will judge what they can and cannot do and will take ownership for their decisions.
What do they feel they’re missing? Why do they think they don’t have a life? Try to get them to express what they’re feeling. Letting them express their thoughts, without mom or dad jumping in and giving our nickel’s worth, will help them feel better.
Give Love and Support.
What if they have lost their love of swimming? It’s way too hard of a sport and a big time commitment if they’ve lost their passion. Be sure they know you will love them and support them in whatever they choose to do.
What other tips do you have for parents when their kids say they don’t have a life?
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.