A recent blog post by Rachel Macy Stafford on Huffington Post turned me on to this simple but powerful sentence:
I love to watch you play.
Reporting on another article about 30 years of research about parents of college athletes, Rachel Macy Stafford states,
“… college athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame. Their overwhelming response: ‘I love to watch you play.’”
The life-changing sentence came at the beginning of an article entitled, “What Makes a Nightmare Sports Parent and What Makes a Great One,” which described powerful insights gathered over three decades by Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching LLC. Although I finished reading the entire piece, my eyes went back and searched for that one particular sentence — the one that said, “I love to watch you play.”
The phrase does not judge children’s performance. It does not go into evaluative detail. It does not offer advice. It simply lets them know you are glad to be part of their lives as they are living them. It can apply to all kinds of situations:
I love to hear you sing.
I love to listen to you read.
I love to watch you build with Legos.
I love to see you help your grandmother.
I love to watch you jump.
I love to watch you sleep.
By the way, the remainder of “What Makes a Nightmare Sports Parent and What Makes a Great One,” is worth a read, as it goes into brief detail on five signs of a nightmare sports parent and five signs of an ideal sports parent…
FIVE SIGNS OF A NIGHTMARE SPORTS PARENT
- Overemphasizing sports at the expense of sportsmanship
- Having different goals than your child
- Treating your child differently after a loss than a win
- Undermining the coach
- Living your own athletic dream through your child
FIVE SIGNS OF AN IDEAL SPORTS PARENT
Let’s hear it for the parents who do it right. In many respects, Brown and Miller say, it’s easier to be an ideal sports parent than a nightmare. “It takes less effort,” Miller says. “Sit back and enjoy.” Here’s what to do:
- Cheer everybody on the team, not just your child
- Model appropriate behavior
- Know what is suitable to discuss with the coach
- Know your role
- Be a good listener and a great encourager