People often ask me and my wife how were we able to raise our daughters trouble free, while supporting them to reach their goal of playing division one sports at the school of their dreams. Our oldest went to UCLA to run track, the middle one played softball at San Diego State and the youngest played softball at Stanford. All three were able to graduate and go off into the career of their choice. Most of the time my quick answer is “it was simple”. Not to say it was easy or that we didn’t have our bumps in the road, we did. But what we were able to discover was that once we helped them to find their carrot the rest was easy.
The carrot that I am referring to are the goals that they set for themselves, and once we all had a clear understanding of the carrot we used that along with the standards that we set as a family and we simply let them make choices that aligned with their dreams and goals and our family mission. This created an environment that I believe moved them in the direction that they went in. Sports was a big part of it, but it we didn’t put all of our chips on that. They knew early on that sports were going to be one of the vehicles we used, but they also knew God, academics, giving back to others and being community minded were all very important.
Still being very involved in youth sports and personal development I hear parents say that the mental aspects of their kid’s sports is important, yet I don’t see parents making the investment like they do with hitting lessons, fielding classes, paying huge fees for high level teams for them to be on. What I hope parents would understand is that you can’t only invest in the on the field stuff because what happens if the kid falls short of their sports goal. What I know for sure is that if our kids would not have been blessed with the kind of athletic ability they had, they would have still ended up in their dream careers and they still would have been the outstanding young women they are today because we invested in the off the field stuff as much as we invested in the lessons and expensive equipment. Our kids would have still gone into nursing, law enforcement and the practice of law respectively.
I encourage families to make off the field stuff just as important as the on the field stuff. Invest in helping your kids dreams either by working with them yourself or by hiring someone who is an expert at doing it. If parents are not helping their kids do a DREAM inventory so that the kid can start the process of bringing into consciousness what they can become, if they are not creating SMART goals with their kids so that their dreams are written in a Specific, Measurable, Realistic Time-Bound way so that everyone can support the action plan that comes from this process and if they are not helping the kid be accountable then what the parent hopes for the kid will be one hundred times harder. If the kid does not have a written vison, a vision statement and vision board that can remind them and encourage them to keep moving towards their dreams and goals then they run the risk of all of their time and resources would have been for not.
Parents have to understand that they get one time through this process and like with learning a new language it is easier to teach the kid this process when they are young versus when they are older and stuck in their ways. Parents wake-up and smell the coffee the time to invest in your kid’s future, both on the field and off is now.