There really are six good reason not to coach your child’s sports team and at least one of them probably is true of you and your situation. The point is too often we, as parents, are so anxious to escape being drawn in to coaching our child’s sports team that we actually sink to making up excuses that both sound ludicrous and contain very little, if any, element of the truth. While we don’t owe our kids a foray into the world of coaching sports, we do owe them the truth.
Perhaps the most acceptable and true sounding reason not to coach your child’s sports team lies in your own skill set. If your child wants you to coach soccer and you have never played soccer in your life, don’t know the rules and really are more likely to teach some unsuspecting child all the wrong moves on the soccer field then you really have a responsibility to share that info with your child. If he or she can’t understand that, as much as you would like to be a part of their soccer experience coaching would be the wrong thing to do, then it’s probably time for you to work more with your child on common sense than on soccer. Chances are your child will get it right away, especially if you let him or her know you will be there at the games cheering as often as you can.
A second good reason not to coach your child’s sports team could be the fact that you have a pre-existing condition. No this isn’t a health care issue, but it might very well be the 100% truth. Parents have commitments. They have jobs that sometimes demand overtime hours or meetings. They may also have other non-work related responsibilities of all kinds. No parent does a child a real favor by agreeing to coach and then constantly having to miss practices and games because of conflicts. The result is likely to be that the child is embarrassed by the lack of the parent’s sense of commitment to the team and may decide to skip practices and games too. Telling your child upfront that you can’t swing the time commitment is much more acceptable in the long run than promising something that you know you can’t deliver.
One good reason not to coach your child’s sports team may not be something that you chose to reveal to him or her. You may have noticed that your child always wants you present when he or she is involved in large group activities like church school or scouts. You may honestly feel that it is time for your child to get used to working under the authority of other adults. Or you may recognize that other adults have lots of great things to teach your child and different personality traits to share. If you want this variety of experiences for your child than you can’t always be the room parent at school, the crossing guard , or the chaperon on every school trip. So maybe this time some other adult should be your child’s coach.
Maybe you have realized that coaching and chaperoning everything your child does doesn’t just mean fewer adult contacts for your child, but it can also mean too much of a good thing for you and your child. While on the surface your child may say he wants you to coach again this year, you have to be the adult and recognize that the good relationship you now have with your child can suffer when you are thrown together constantly. If you realize that you need a little space from each other to better appreciate the good relationship you have don’t be afraid to talk it through with your child. Truth is a wonderful tool in any discussion.
Another truthful reason for not coaching your child’s sports team can be the truth that you feel the need to more carefully divide your available free time among all the members of the family. The sport your child wants you to coach may have multiple practices and a season of games that seems to go on indefinitely. It could be a schedule that would rule out your chances of attending other family functions or offering other children or your spouse the kind of assistance that they need and you want to give in a variety of areas. Children who are old enough to play sports are old enough to understand the need to be fair in the distribution of parent time.
Finally you can do your children a real favor by recognizing that one of the best reasons not to coach your child’s sports team is when he or she would really rather you didn’t. They may not want to say those words out loud but most parents know their children well enough to sense what they are feeling even if they don’t announce it. If you feel that your child is uncomfortable with you as a coach for any reason, then gently act on your recognition. Sometimes the best reason for not coaching your child’s sports team is simply because you love them and want them to be happy.