One of my greatest challenges as a mom is watching my children go through any kind of struggle. My first reaction is to want to jump in and fix it for them. I'm sure if you ask any parent most would say they feel the same. After my son was done playing minor hockey I realized just how much the struggles in hockey had taught him. I realized that everything he's learned would be incredible life lessons that would carry him into adulthood.
There were many moments that I got caught up in the dream, the hope of him making it to the next level, "the rewards" of being an elite player. Once I looked back I realized that what I thought was "the reward" was all wrong. What I learned was that the reward from playing hockey was the young man that came out of all those experiences; this young, articulate man who could now go into any job interview and hold his head up with confidence and know how to conduct himself. The reward was that if he didn't get the job he'd be able to look the employer in the face, shake their hand and thank them for the experience. We didn't teach him that, hockey did. Through every tryout and being cut, through every great save and bad goal he learned how to succeed and how to live with disappointment gracefully. You don't learn that by not facing adversity as you grow up.
In lesson six (6) from Lessons From Behind the Glass it reads:
"There is a lot to be said for repeatedly being knocked down and having to get yourself back up. I knew that in my son's life there would be times that he wouldn't get jobs he applied for, he'd have his heart broken at some point and he'd face more cuts if he was going to continue moving forward with hockey. Because of all he faced in hockey I could see that he was learning to handle disappointments with resilience. He was growing up and when given opportunities I knew he'd make the most of them. You can't teach that kind of life lesson. It was brutal to watch, but I can say now that I look back I'm thankful for all he went through."
In the video, when hockey parent Grant Zimmerman was asked how he felt disappointments through hockey would help is child into adulthood he said, "I think there are so many lessons from sport. It's so hard to see them go through disappointment and to see him go through the challenge but we've seen really good things come from it, so it's hard to go through it but those life lessons are great."
I don't know if I can say I'll ever get used to watching my children struggle through anything. What I do know is that they have their whole lives ahead of them so let's help prepare them for adulthood. I hate to tell you this but you won't be able to go into their university or college to fight for a better mark if they fail a test. You can't go into their place of employment and get them a raise either. Teach them how to be resilient now; allowing them to face adversity will offer them a gift of strength that will help them grow into strong adults. As the lesson says, "Nothing in hockey is free, but it's the cost that teaches you the most!"
I'm going to end with a quote from the video from hockey coach Leland Mack that explains it best, "The mental side needs to be tough for sure, and that's one of the biggest sides of the hockey world that probably isn't focused on enough." He goes on to say, "And that could be the one real key area between one kid and the next kid in going to the next level."
- Written by Allyson Tufts