I really thought I had this lesson all figured out until filming when I realized, once again, I still had much to learn. We asked Jim Dinwoodie (North Shore Winter Club) if he felt that parents could be objective about their child's abilities on the ice and his response was bang on. He said "Like anybody in the moment, the objectivity will dissipate; they won't have it a couple of days later, sometimes a year later it will happen, but it takes time."
I honestly felt like he was telling my story. I could have never written the book or taken part in these interviews in an honest way if I was still in the middle of the minor hockey experience. I needed time to reflect back and take a good look at how I viewed certain situations in the moment; situations such as my son getting cut, getting benched or being named the backup goalie usually brought out the worst in me. When I look back and I hear him tell those same stories, I realize in many situations I was being a protective parent. I strongly believe that it's our job to protect our kids but in doing that we need to realize it makes being objective in certain situations almost impossible. I think one of the best examples of that is in the video when Brock tells the story about being the backup goalie during playoffs.
I believe that kids often know their place on a team; they know who the best skaters are, whose best on the penalty kill or who makes the biggest saves, and they are okay with that. I think as parents we make it so much worse for them, or we fill their heads with our own opinions that contradict what they are being told in the dressing room. If your child is struggling with their hockey experience, I think as parents we need to help them with that, but we need to ensure that its is them that's having the struggle, not us, before we step in.
I find it so interesting that when you ask parents about how their kids are doing in school, they seem to have a good handle on where they are academically. I don't think most parents are dreaming their child will go to Harvard. I believe that most want them to do they best they can, go on to college or university and enjoy the experience while they're there. Yet as hockey parents when we are in the thick of the hockey season, if we are honest with ourselves, our goal for our kids is the "Harvard" of the hockey world. The dream is Junior hockey, the National Hockey League (NHL) or a scholarship. Can you imagine pressuring your child to get 100 per cent on their math exam, paying for tutors night after night, and then yelling at them if they get 80 per cent? When you look at it in those terms it seems so wrong, yet sometimes this is how we behave in hockey. We have so much faith in our children and because we love them unconditionally, it can give us unrealistic expectations of their capabilities.
There is a story in the book where I ask my husband if he feels that our son had what it took to go somewhere in hockey and his response was, "I don't know and I'm not the one to ask. That's how parents get disappointed; we aren't objective enough to make that call." At the time it really irritated me because he had played hockey all his life and had a good understanding of the game. The only difference was that he could be objective with the kids he coached but not with his own son. He was right. When we love our kids unconditionally we tend to see hockey through a different set of eyes.
- Written by Allyson Tufts