Am I selfish

dawn1968July 14, 2008

I have two daughters 14 and 11 who are involved in a traveling softball club team and my husband is obsessed with softball.

When we moved into our town my daughters played on our towns league which was manageable. During the towns leagues he was asked by a private team to have my oldest try out for this "club" team which is not affiliated with the town at all. He took her down for tryouts and she was accepted to play on the team which was a huge compliment for her and of course for my husband. That was three years ago. Since then my entire family life has revolved around softball. WeÂve played in the Fall, Spring and Summer leagues, weÂve only had a few weeks off in the winter, and this past summer league between my 11 and 14 yr old theyÂve played over 60 games at various time and places, most of which are every night after work start at 6 or 8 or both (double headers) and every weekend (Friday night  Sunday late afternoon or early PM) Games start end of April and go until the last week of July. Which leaves only August to get in some bbqs, weekend trips, and beach or pool time?

I like the sport but donÂt love it, but I feel very guilty when I donÂt go or am looked at with three heads by the other moms if I donÂt attend a few games. IÂm very conscience about eating healthy and like to cook for my family almost every other night was eating out.

Please tell me am I being selfish for wanting more for my family, wanting to show my girls other activities besides softball. My husband says this is the only window of opportunity he has with the girls to be as involved with them as he has, b/c after this window closes it will be mostly doing "stuff" with mom or girlie type things.. which I think is unfair because we involve him in everything we do.

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I sure don't think you are selfish and I, personally, don't think it's good for kids to be so involved. A co-worker of mine has kids that play traveling soccer and the entire family is involved at least 5 days a week. The co-worker is exhausted and complains that there is no "family" time anymore, it's all "soccer time."

I would ask if Dad is fulfilling some kind of lost opportunity through his daughters. I don't mean to be disrespectful, but that's the way I see such immersion, such involvement in a sport.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 4:12PM
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I'm with you.

I not too big into heavy sports with kids for many, many reasons. I prefer everything in moderation for children. I would hate to think that you missed out on other opportunitites with your girls because of this. Playing an organized sport is fine, but when it becomes a daily ritual that seems to become more important than school work, friendships, faith, and family, for a long period of time, there may be a problem. Children need to learn priorities and parents need to help set them.

Really, you will probably only have a few more years with the girls (girly stuff or not). Once they go off for college, society's got them. I would bet as adults looking back they may appreciate learning and being involved in some other things.. foreign languages, piano, girl scouts, having sleepovers, pranking boys, doing service projects, not to mention being involved in other sports. You want well rounded children, don't you?

I also don't think you are wrong if you don't attend all those games. I think many children nowadays are being taught to be selfish and spolied themselves. Aren't you entitiled to a life? Would they come to your volleyball games if you picked up a Friday night team? I doubt it; because they would be at their games. We are teaching children to think that everything and everyone revolves around them... when they hit the real world and see that it doesn't they are going to be crushed and not know how to deal with it. We are not doing them a favor by spoiling them. Life doesn't revolved around them; they are no more important than you are.. they need to understand this and learn respect for other people and their time too. It's not about not caring for your kids, but rather teaching them respect for other people. Don't become TOO involved in their softball lives; it really isn't doing them any favor. It's THEIR hobbie, not yours.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 4:21PM
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Thank you for your support. What you've said really reinforces exactly how I feel towards the whole situation. It's most definitely something he missed out on as a child growing up but so did I, my parent's had limitations. This is going to be a struggle and unfortunately I think he's going to resent me for it. I've already noticed him pitting my daughters against me. I asked them a question over the weekend like "do you miss some of the other summer activities that we could be doing" and it was like they had rehearsed it. Why mom... I love softball; do you not want me to do it anymore?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 4:54PM
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I think it would be tough to get them out of the sports circuit if they're already so heavily-involved and your husband is a strong advocate of their staying so involved.

Have you considered talking with your husband about the risk of long-term injuries when they're playing so much? The girls may not care, but he might. The New York Times had an article about the injury rates for girls who are heavy-duty into sports. The article focused mostly on soccer, but there were some references to other sports. Maybe some of the information in it could help you communicate with him.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 6:03PM
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Would it change the way you felt if playing softball could get your daughters a full four-year athletic scholarship to college? Because it might, if they're that good. I'm not suggesting that this makes it OK - just that it may be a consideration.

But overall, I'm with you about 'balance' and 'family time' and I think it would be irresponsible of you NOT to consider that.

On the other hand, playing softball with Dad is a pretty darn nice thing for a 14 y.o. girl to be doing when you consider the alternatives...

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 6:29PM
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Sorry, but bad point, sweeby,

Being able to become so one tracked on something just so you can get a sports scholarship is never a good thing. I bet many kids could get academic scholarships if they only studied around the clock too, but even that is usually frowned upon.

This is exactly the wrong sports mentality thing that is going on in this county today, IMO. We are not a foreign country that trains our little ones consistantly from birth to compete in the Olympics. Where does the pushing begin or end? Parents need to take some responsibility to make sure their children enjoy their youth, are well rounded, and are given options to explore many avenues of possible interests. Parents should not make a god out of sports even if it will help to pay the rent.

Plus, I don't think you're gonna know at 11 or 14 if they are gonna be able to get a college scholarship or make an olympic team and yes, having them play every day all day long may and probably will improve their odds, but at what expense and is it the right thing to do? If one of your girls is truly talented, there is no reason she should not be able to train 'from home' so to say and get a scholarship the old fashion way, without having to sacrifice the rest of her youth doing it. There can and should be a happy balance.

And, if you truly want or need a scholarship, I'd focus on trying for an academic one... that will probably help train and provide a lot more opportunities for your girls when they enter the real world. A dumb jock can only go so far... (not implying your kids are dumb, but I'm sure you get the point - do they even have time to read a book?).

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 7:16PM
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I know exactly how you feel. I have been down the sport road, for many years. Except in this case it was my son and his dad.

My son played rugby union - early starts, freezing mornings, long distances to travel to games, training during the week. I did not like the game because I worried about him being hurt. This went on for four years. I went to every game.

In the summer he played cricket, long game, me scoring, training every day, cricket on went on and on !!

After 5 years of that...I said I was not going to the games. Yes, I felt guilty, but I felt that I had to make a stand. Was it fair for "them" to assume I had the same passion as "them" about the game. I did feel bad, as I stayed home and they went off to the game, I felt guilty that I wasn't there helping out. Other parents would say "I haven't seen you at the game".. gee !!

Now... I can look back on son is 16 and isn't into sport, so much any more. I think the years that he was, was wonderful for him, it taught him how to get on in a team, it took him outside his comfort zone. It showed him how badly parents can be (not me!!), the ones on the sideline. It made him fit and the best thing of all he saw his dad coaching and taking an active interest, and his dear old Mum being there with him on the journey...he may appreciate this later in life, I dont think he did at the time !

I know this is difficult for you, Dawn, but if you look at in terms of the big picture, this is a short time in their lives and the sport obsession will probably end some time soon, when the girls find more interesting things to do.

Or else, they may be really gifted and end up in the Olympics, who knows where it will end up.

It is terrific that the girls are spending time with their father, because this teen age is like a minefield with girls and their dads.

Perhaps you can just pull back, a bit, with your involvement, to help you out a bit. Or just suggest going to a movie together, when you know they aren't at the sport.

I don't think you are being selfish, you want some balance in their lives. For a happy and fulfilling life we all need to have different ingredients to make us whole and happy and too much of one thing, in this case sport, won't make for a good mix.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 7:19PM
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From what you said they play Spring, Fall and Summer, 3 of four 4 seasons. Is it possible to stay in the league and only play two seasons so there would be more family time.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 7:56PM
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I totally understand your feelings and the reaction by those involved in the sport. DD13 plays softball for her team and our city. In May we had 40 games to attend between the two. She was voted onto the allstar team even though we told the coaches we could not make the committment due to several family trips, visits, cubscouts for boys and still was on the roster and being pressured to play. The coach and other parents couldn't understand why anyone voted to play and asked to be part of the starting line up would refuse. Ahhhhh...because we have a life outside of sports......but she has friends who play year round travel soccer/basketball/ whatever.....they live for it and it rules their is always more importantn and a balenced life is always better.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 10:43PM
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I have to agree with most of the posters on here. I have a few friends and family members whose kids do almost year round baseball and soccer. The kids miss birthday parties, family events, etc. They have no time to just be a kid and play. They rush through homework and dinner. And they just miss their childhood.

I know when my son was in football, which only lasts a few months, we were all miserable. He really wanted to play at first, but after the 2 hour practices 5 days a week and then Saturday games he got burnt out. He wanted to play with his friends and just relax instead of going to practices. He played baseball and began getting burnt out on that.

This year I told him no sports and reminded him of his complaints last year.

Instead he wanted to join cub scouts, which works out so much better because it has lots of outdoor activities that we can all do together as a family with his troop. All my kids look forward to his scout events!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 11:46PM
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I was talking about this with a friend of mine recently. She has sons same age-range as mine (12-15). Our boys play roller hockey together. Her sons also play on other teams, roller and ice, up to 3 teams at the same time. They often rush from one hockey game to another, they spend entire weekends traveling; there are camps; expensive and time consuming. Hockey is not her thing, it's her kids' thing. I commented that she has made more committment that I would be willing to make. But, my boys are content to play on one local team, giving up a couple days/week for practice/games. They enjoy their free time, they don't ask to play more. Her boys are begging to play every minute they have. So just because it's not right for my family, doesn't mean it isn't right for hers.

My DD is in competitive gymnastics and at 8 y/o she is in the gym at least 7 hours a week (easy right now, tough during school year). She has 4-5 meets in the winter, not more than 30 mins away so far. Team parents are required to put in a lot of volunteer time to support the team, meets and gym. Less committment than a future Olympian, but more than the average 8 y/o. DD does ask to go to the gym every free minute, she is passionate about her sport in a way her brothers are not. If she continues, by the time DD is 12-15 y/o she would be in the gym 6 days/week, up to 20 hours/week. Meets will be more frequent and farther, sometimes requiring overnight stays.

My friend knows all this. In response to my statement about her committment to hockey, she asked if I'll stop DD when gymnastics gets to that point. I'll tell you, she shut me up. How can I let DD work that hard, watch her set a goal and reach it, then tell her it's over, she can't go any further?

I know another family dedicated to baseball. The travel to the Little League World Series every year. Thousands $$$. In their case, while the boys are very good, I see the father living vicariously. He was a college athlete who was injured and had to stop. My observation of him is that it matters to him that his sons are "cool." His kids are trophies on the mantle to him. The better they are at the sport, the better father that proves him to be. As much as he disturbs me, I still have to say those family road trips to the LL World Series are going to be great memories for the whole family. They trade pins, go to pro games with the whole team, and father and sons sleep on bunks in barracks! LOL. They definitely have a good time and bond, that point cannot be denied.

As parents, want to give our kids the opportunity to pursue their talents and interests. There is nothing wrong with that. Each family is unique, with different needs and dynamics. There is nothing wrong with that, either. Each family has to figure out their own boundaries with these things, their own way to handle the ups and downs of the activities. There is no single formula for activity involvement, no magic amount of time, that will work for every family.

It isn't fair for one person's hobby to consume all the family's time, energy and resources. So I don't think you are selfish to say "Hey, this is too much for me." Your family needs to talk about this, have a family meeting. There is nothing wrong with sitting down regularly to evaluate your involvement in the sport. Let the girls think about what they want/need, not just keep going on momentum "because that's what we've always done." Talk about the concerns of time, giving up other family outtings. If your DH's concern is staying involved with girls, talk about how that can still be accomplished. It's good to stop occassionally to question your family's goals, motives, and methods and make adjustments.

Like I said, each family has it's unique issues. We have 4 kids, ages 6 to 15. So that creates its own set of issues to deal with, we can't be all places at once. I don't go to all of 15 y/o DS's hockey games, even though they are local. They don't end until 10pm. So if it's a school night, I'm home getting the other kids to bed. DH coaches, so he is always there. DH does not go to all of DD's gymnastics meets. They are very long, and I am often "working" them, and another kid often has a conflicting activity. We have to "divide and conquer." Our youngest will start playing baseball this fall. So we're in for another twist in the family schedule.

You really just need to talk out what is best for your family. As the mom, you have a good sense of when the balance has gotten a little off, and there is nothing selfish about wanting to get it in check again. It might mean small or big adjustments. But only your family can decide what is best for all of you.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 11:52PM
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What else can I say but thank you to all of you for your insight and experiences, I took away something invaluable from each one of you. Thank you again for taking the time out of your day to respond to my question.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 10:31AM
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