It’s okay for parents to feel sad when their teen’s sports career comes to a close.
Whether your athlete decided to quit their sport to pursue other interests or you have a senior who chose not to continue in college, your last time watching them compete (or perform) will be full of emotions and past reflections.
It is hard when this parenting season ends.
You will take your seat on the sidelines, the stadium, the ballpark, or gymnasium, the ice rink, the auditorium, the tennis court, or the natatorium- and think to yourself, “My gosh, this is it.”
This crazy, stressful, and exciting life of being a sports parent will eventually finish. The reality of this end of an era will hit hard, and you’ll feel the swell of sadness and maybe a little relief as you think through all the details of what this means for your life.
The flood of memories will be strong
You’ll reminisce about those younger years when your kid first learned to catch a ball, swim that first lap, take their first dive, or flip on the mat.
You’ll remember how adorable they were when they were just beginning to develop their skills with childlike joy and innocent play. Our little athletes and performers all started so small, and here they are all grown up and ready to move on.
You’ll do that long sigh with a teary eye, reflecting on all the years that have gone by and you might start to wonder and worry if your kid will adjust to life without the sport that they have loved for so long.
Or maybe your kid started their sport later in life, and you remember those first try-outs and training programs that took courage and effort for your older child to pursue. You were so proud of them for trying something new.
Whatever the case, life will be so very different for both of you.
You will start thinking about all the things you’ll miss, the people you met, and the friends you made who you hope you’ll stay close with despite this big change.
You’ll reflect on your life that was always jam-packed with busy schedules where your kid’s sport took up tons of your time. You will remember feeling exhausted from long days and stressed from fitting in all in and spent from weekends of travel.
And you’ll wonder what you will do with all those free nights and weekends, now that you won’t spend them at countless competitions and events?
It all went by so fast, as you supported your kid through all their training and hard work while they grew up doing something they love.
There will be no more dirty uniforms to wash or massive meals to make for your hungry athlete. No more Costco bulk buys packed with snacks and drinks. There will be no more ongoing talks about how the team is working together or learning all the stats about every player.
The connection you make with your kid through sports is strong
The conversations that used to fill up your days when your kid constantly shared their setbacks or progress will need to be filled with other things.
No more late nights listening to your athlete talk about all the challenges and difficulties or conflicts and controversies that at times would arise. No more pep talks when they’re down about their performance or praising their efforts after a tough game. No more nervous jitters every parent gets when their kid is under pressure, in the heat of the moment, or before a big match. No more sitting in packed places waiting hours to watch one race. No more tears over wins or losses or cheering so loud from the spectators’ crowd while you watched your child give it all.
You were so proud.
You’ll remember the endless rides you gave, and all the carpools too, taking your kid to every practice and meeting and special event and program, until they could finally drive themselves.
No more idling in parking lots, waiting for your kid to come out, or getting up before dawn to take them to early-morning workouts.
And as they got older and more independent, you were still behind the scenes doing all you could to support them daily.
Now it’s all done, this hectic life of sports you’ve lived for so long.
The garage will be empty of equipment and sports gear, and your athlete’s drawers which were once packed with uniforms and practice jerseys, leotards or swimsuits, will eventually be cleared.
No more long-distance travels, your car packed with overnight bags, coolers of drinks, and tons of snacks.
No more venturing out in the rain, sleet, snow, or the sweltering sun to show up for your kid. No more dressing in layers of winter gear or slathering sunblock to withstand the harsh conditions for hours and sometimes days of competitions.
There will be no more sports fees, uniforms and costumes to buy, and spending on gas and hotels. No more ticket purchases for every season and fundraising donations–and you can’t imagine the money you will save.
You won’t have to work all the volunteer jobs, prepare team meals, or show up at all the program’s activities and mandatory meetings too. Your calendar will be empty of all the things sports parents do, and you wonder what you’ll do with all that free time you’ll have now.
You’ll hope your kid will find new activities they love which will build new skills and grow them in new ways. But you never want them to forget all the lessons they learned from being part of a team and working so hard. Those character traits they developed will last a lifetime, like respect and responsibility, discipline and perseverance.
You’re so grateful for all they experienced, however long their sports career was. You just want your kid to be happy, whatever they choose to do. This is how life goes as a parent: we love what they love. And this is how our kids grow up and learn who they are and discover their strengths and passions.
As our kids get older, they start paving their own path they want to follow, and there are many off-ramps to take until they discover the perfect road to travel.
And we are still there for it all, still cheering them on along the way.
This will be a hard door to shut for you as a parent
No matter what sport or activity they’ve been involved in or for how long, closing this chapter of their life and turning the pages to see what comes next, is scary and exciting.
It’s okay for you to feel sad, too.
The days will be so different, and you both will have some adapting to do.
Being a parent of a teen athlete requires serious commitment and sacrifice, but you loved every minute of supporting your kid.
You’re going to miss every painstaking detail of it all.
But you will especially miss watching your kid grow and mature in ways they never would, had they not developed the love for their sport and given it all they could.
And you’d do it all over again.
You may also like to read: Why Our Family Is Okay With Our Teen’s Crazy Sports Schedule
P.S. Are you looking to have a better relationship with your teen? Check out this book, Parenting Teens with Love and Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood, by Jim Fay.
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