The term ‘soccer mom’ is used loosely here – a soccer mom is just any mom that has a child in a sport. This isn’t specific to soccer, and it isn’t just referring to the mom with a van carpooling children around with individually wrapped snacks either. Being a mom with children in sports doesn’t sound like anything out of the ordinary, many children play sports throughout their lifetime and moms everywhere are going to t-ball games and washing grass stains out of uniforms. In reality having a child in a sport is a rollercoaster of emotion, from enjoying their wins and personal growth to, struggling with worry and logistical issues.
One of the ‘ups’ of the soccer mom lifestyle is providing extra socialization for your child. In a sports setting, children interact with other children that may not live in their neighborhood or go to their school, but still enjoy the same sport that they enjoy. Introducing your children into an environment that focuses on working with others and being active is a great asset for kids that are interested in sports as an activity. For parents that spend time worrying about the friends their kids might make or the activities they will learn to enjoy, it can be a great stress reliever to watch their children take part in an activity with others that promotes staying active and focusing their energy on something helpful. Not that all children that play sports don’t find themselves in trouble at some point, but at least it keeps them busy with something active.
On the down side, many parents struggle with health concerns watching their children become passionate about a sport. Many sports take a toll on the body, and some carry with them a very real risk of long-term injury. Physical sports like boxing and football have gained a lot of notoriety on the professional scale with the dangers of long term brain injury, and even if that may not be as big of an issue in peewee football, in high school that may be different. The future of sports looks safer with technology and rule changes backing athlete safety, but it’s still a concern. While mothers and fathers are enjoying the added socialization for their children, there is still a bit of worry for their health. Fortunately, the more we understand about the body and study an athlete’s health, the more information we have to protect the health of our younger athletes as well.
Many extracurricular activities offer character building: speech and debate, choir, band, dance, drama, and yearbook are all activities that offer socialization and character building within peer groups. In a sports setting, coaches take great care in promoting sportsmanship as well as training to win. Playing within the rules, avoiding taunting, having respect for referees, encouraging teamwork, learning the game, taking criticism, and shaking hands in defeat are all as important as learning how to make a 3-point shot or hit a homerun. Watching your child build up a teammate that ruined a play, or congratulate another team after they beat them is just as rewarding as watching them score the winning touchdown. Some of these characteristics are hard to teach, but a sports setting seems to do just the trick for many kids.
Time and Money
Like many things about parenthood, a child that loves sports is a child that requires a lot of time and money from their parents. The average cost for sports participation was $400 per child according to a national study, making it difficult for some families to afford to have their children play a sport. This includes fees, equipment, and travel. The time that a parent needs to spend with their child playing a sport varies based on game times, locations, and practices. For some parents it can be extremely difficult to juggle if they work odd hours, are the single parent, or have more than one child in a sport. It’s clear how much of a positive impact it can be on a child to take part in sports throughout their life if they choose, but spending the money and taking the time for it can be stressful.
Being a soccer mom isn’t always about carpooling kids easily, packing celery into Ziplocs, and cheering as your kid scores the winning goal. It’s about watching them grow socially and become leaders. It’s about watching them interact with other children and adults and seeing them learn how to lose as graciously as they win. Sometimes it’s about crying when they get hit too hard or having serious discussions about their safety on the field. It’s about trying to come up with the money to send them to a football camp the rest of the team is attending, or fitting their championship game in between shifts at work. Like any other aspect of parenthood, it’s about riding the ups and downs without falling off the tracks. So if you’re a soccer mom, or a cheerleading mom, or a football mom, or a fencing mom, or a volleyball mom, know you’re not the only one on the rollercoaster.
Guest Post by Chelsy Ranard
Follow me on Twitter @Chelsy5
Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She is a shark enthusiast, enjoys playing hockey, and loves out of date rock music.