How I became a better parent through my kids' sports experiences

Character Lasts, Sports Don't, Part 2 of a 4 part series in the month of September.

Sometimes kids are not the only ones who learn character lessons from playing sports. Parents can learn too. After 16 years of being a sports mom, I know that I have become a better parent.

1. I learned when to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes your kids don't want questions after practice or after a game. You gotta know your kid and let them talk when they are ready. And then, be ready to just listen.

2. I learned that my worrying doesn't help them play better. It just gives me a nervous stomach!

3. I learned to not be a control freak. Let them fight their own battles. Let them learn from their mistakes. Let them reap what they sow. Let them suffer the consequences of their choices.

4. I learned that what I model at home is what my kids model before their teammates. If I trash talk teammates or coaches, they will most likely do the same. But if I am positive and build up the team and coach, they are more likely to reflect that to their team.

5. I learned to let the coach be the coach, and I will be the parent. He has his job; I have mine. If I think I know more than the coach, then maybe I should take his place. Pointers and tips and help at home are okay when asked, but pushing my kids like a coach only added tension to our relationship.

6. I learned that being positive helps me have a better relationship with my kid. Sometimes I can be a "negative nancy" and when I saw how this frustrated my kids, I knew I had to work on my attitude!

7. I learned that kids want me to be their fan, but they don't want me to embarrass them at games. 'Nough said.

8. I learned how ridiculous I look when I rant at the refs. And how did I learn that? By seeing how other parents look when they rant, and cringing as I remember how I screamed at the refs just the game before.

9. I learned that sometimes it's okay to step into the fight. I've calmly approached refs after the game and expressed my discontent at their call. As a coach, my husband was thrown out of a game for defending his players. There is a time and a place for our kids to know that we are on their side.

10. I learned to love my kids no matter how they perform. If they had a bad game, they know it and don't need any reminders from me. They just need my support and unconditional love.

11. I learned to respect their choices of when to play a sport and when to move on. Even though we may be extremely disappointed for them to give up a sport, especially when they are good players, if they don't have the desire and motivation to play the game, it will be a season of battles and negative attitudes.

These are 11 lessons I wish I could have learned before my kids started playing sports! But hey, now I'm ready for sports grandparenting!

Author's Bio: 

Janis was brought up in a sports family, married a man who has coached for 26 years,and has had three kids play sports from age 5 to college. She sees issues a bit differently, with a perspective of life from both sides of the bench--as a coach's wife and as an athlete's parent. Check out her blog at