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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Getting Kids to Play Soccer ... and Leave Home

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Two pieces on parental failure that might seem unrelated (but aren't) caught my eye today. The first, by Free Range Mom Lenore Skenazy, considers a nationwide decline in youth soccer participation. The story Skenazy quotes rightly blames the decline on pushing children into tryouts and highly competitive leagues at too early an age, before stating what it is that kids really need:

Don't be fooled by the lack of a uniform... (Image via Pixabay.)
Really -- what IS the point? If kids want to play soccer, they don't need a coach, a field, a uniform and a fee. All they need is some friends and a ball. And actually, as Carlo Celli and Nathan Richardson note in their book, Shoeless Soccer, they don't even need a ball. Pele, the soccer legend, learned playing barefoot, kicking a sock filled with rags. [minor edits, link omitted]
I can't resist passing along a story about my baby brother, whose birthday it is today. My mother took him and a couple of his friends shopping when they were between six and eight, and they spontaneously began playing in a parking place next to her car as she loaded it. They used a dead frog as the ball. And, yes, one of them ended up heading it before she broke it up.

The second story is by Evil HR Lady Suzanne Lucas, and concerns helicopter parents interfering with their teenagers' first jobs, even unexpectedly filling in for them (!) when they complained about being tired. Her commentary is spot-on, and includes the following:
You are teaching your child many, many lessons in behaving like this. The first lesson is that your child is incapable of doing hard things. The second lesson is that mom does not trust them to solve their own problems. The third lesson is that mom will rush in and save them from any small difficulty. You know what this gets you? This gets you a 35-year-old living in your basement. [emphasis in original]
Although the first story concerns pushing children too hard and the second helping them too much, both are about parents who control the lives of their children too much. This keeps them from developing their own interests on their own terms, thereby becoming motivated and self-confident. In each case, back off is excellent advice.

-- CAV

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