I hope everyone enjoys the first video in the Lessons From Behind the Glass video series. Don't force your passion, your child will find their own was one of the greatest lessons for me. Unfortunately, it was one I had to keep learning as we moved through the hockey years.
I think Mike Sexton (Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association) says it best in the video when he says, "The more you push, the further you push your kids away." Although we only want what's best for our young players, our own passion can get in the way sometimes.
During filming, my son told me he hated the car rides home after his games. His comments surprised me; I honestly would have never pegged us as the parents that made the car rides home difficult. When he said, "You barely let me get in the car before you started asking me about the game," I knew he was right. When we interviewed coach Leland Mack (Burnaby Winter Club) and he said, "They just have so much internal pressure," it made me realize that although we didn't yell at him after games and always stayed calm, it didn't matter. It was all our questions and our need to know every detail that put so much unnecessary pressure on him.
My passion for hockey stemmed from more than a love of the game; It came from the way I was raised and how I spent my time growing up. I had been so entwined in hockey that when my son was born it never occurred to me that he wouldn't love it as well. As I wrote in the book, our first year was a "gong show" and we pulled him from the sport until he found a love of it himself. When I thought hockey wouldn't be part of our future, I was truly disappointed. Once we took a step back and let him decide what he wanted, the whole experience changed for the better. It made me realize that unless your child wants to play, don't force them. You cannot love it enough for both of you. There is nothing more rewarding than watching your child enjoy a passion they have discovered on their own!
I know that the comment "don't force your passion" is something that parents hear a lot. I think we hear it as "don't make your kids play hockey if they don't want to." In truth, it's so much more than that. Your kids may love hockey, but if your passion for them to be great gets in the way, you can make them hate it, and worse, it can affect your relationship with them. Mack speaks of the affects that overly passionate parents can have on their kids. He said it best when he said, "When the season ends or their hockey career ends, they all say that it destroyed their relationship with their parents." I don't believe any parent sets out to do that at the beginning of the season, but unfortunately, it happens.
If I could go back and do it all over again, would I? Maybe we have waited until he was a little older before we put him on the ice, or not bribed him with a doughnut if he tried his best, and perhaps we wouldn't have interrogated him in the car after games. I still stand behind letting your kids try hockey; if they hate it, make sure they finish out the season even if it's tough on you. Teaching your kids to finish things they start is another valuable lesson for them. If hockey isn't going to be your child's passion, make sure you enjoy watching them figure out what makes them jump out of bed in the morning. What I've realized more than anything, is that my relationship with my son was far more important than my passion for the game.
- Written by Allyson Tufts