Let them figure it out completely on their own or hold their hand as they navigate through their hockey journey?
This is a difficult question parents of athletes ask themselves from the time their children are little cookie monsters who don’t know which way to shoot. As with most decisions, the answer is probably found somewhere between the two extremes.
Before we look deeper into organizing hockey specifically, let’s investigate how much we’re organizing our kids in other areas of their life.
School is all about learning, right? Well, there’s a balance to be struck with helping out with homework and letting them develop the skills necessary to find their own solutions. Also, you don’t attend school with them - there are several situations that occur throughout the day requiring problem solving skills and sound judgment. There’s plenty going on outside of math, science and english skills that you simply can’t help with, but you can help your children through preparation. Making sure they’re up in the morning, feeding them and ensuring they’re wearing pants before they walk out the door.
Ok, so school is organized mostly by the parent, but executed by the child. Fair?
Some families have rules, some families have guidelines, but all families crave as much common sense as possible. Don’t pick on your sister, give that back to your brother, help your mom with the dishes, apologize to your dad for the mess. Everyone has their roles within the family unit. They’re either established intentionally, such as assigning chores, or they evolve naturally. Who tells the jokes? Who bosses the others around? These niches are carved out by family members working together to enjoy life and pursue happiness on a daily basis.
Children learn their core values from their parents. These values shape their character and determine how they’ll tackle the rest of their life.
So how does hockey borrow from the other 2/3rd’s of the life trifecta? Well, we can see that parents help organize school-life by providing children with the necessities they need to be healthy and attentive, and we can see that family values are normally learned from the parents.
Is hockey that much different?
Like school, hockey happens outside of the home where the parent doesn’t shouldn’t have very much direct influence. There’s no substitute for hands-on learning. Sure, parents deserve to know what’s being taught by coaches and why, but like sitting in a classroom, it’s the child who’s learning the lessons and therefore it’s the child who needs to take ownership of successes as well as failures.
And with guidelines being passed down by family, players learn the value of family outside the home and the strength of bonds forged by a team all aiming for the same goals.
Hockey is about learning. The more effort you put into learning the game, the more the game will give back to the player. There’s room for assistance from parents to ensure the player is fed, rested and ready to absorb information, but the onus should be on the player to take responsibility for their hockey destiny.
I’d wager the majority of parents wish they could step back more often, but they’re constantly worried their children won’t be prepared or they won’t absorb the lessons being taught.
What do you think? Where do you and your family fall on the spectrum?