I recently ran across a personal situation in which a kid was pursuing a complex sport that the parents knew next to nothing about. The situation reminded me strongly of my own childhood, so I wrote a note to the parents in hopes it would help them clarify the situation, their roles, and what was in it for their child.
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1) There's nothing wrong with being hands off as a parent.
To this day, my dad doesn't know what color/gender/type of horse I had or even really what we did with it. He and mom made sure I got where I needed to be when I needed to be there, but it was on me to arrange transportation for my horse, make sure I had the correct equipment, was adequately prepared, and knew what forms to get to what people.
This was hard for me. I was a really shy kid, and it terrified me to call people in my club each week to ask for horse hauling. The net result was that I learned to develop working relationships with adults who could help me. I learned to network and find creative options. I learned to be grateful for the kind people who were willing to help me, and I learned how to verbalize what I needed and when I needed it.
2) There's nothing wrong with losing.
This is one of the most important lessons. Whether or not I was a good rider at home, I wasn't a particularly good rider at horse shows, especially at first. Part of that was riding borrowed horses, part of that was not having much show experience, part of that was nerves. I lost a lot. I lost in horribly public and humiliating ways. I not only got disqualified in all the usual ways, I invented new and creative ways to lose.
I have lost far more horse shows than I have ever won. I learned far more from losing than I ever did from winning. Losing taught me that preparation is everything. Losing taught me that life isn't fair. Losing taught me that no matter how embarrassing and horrible a loss was, the sun still rises and life goes on. Losing taught me to be humble. Losing taught me how to empathize with people who struggle. Losing taught me to take what I'm handed and keep on trying, no matter what.
Winning feels good, but feeling good isn't really something most of us need a lot of practice at.
3) Preserve your relationship with your kid.
As I mentioned, my parents knew nothing about my sport of choice. I'll probably never forget the day my mom tried to rush me getting ready for a lesson and put my saddle on backwards right when my instructor walked around the corner. Thanks mom. ;-) I really appreciated my non-horsey parents though. In my observation, the parents who knew the sport forwards and backwards were frequently the parents that sabotaged their own relationships with their children.
My mom knew to pack food, sit here, and not talk to me before classes (I knew to be polite and keep my distance when I felt stressed). My dad learned how to memorize courses and talk me through them before my classes so I wouldn't miss basic things. Beyond that, they were hands off and we were stronger for it. They didn't pick at me, share my stress, or try to control me. They knew I was prepared and they were there to cheer for me (loudly and inappropriately, always), make sure I was fed, and be supportive, no matter what.
It was important that they were there. One of my clearest memories is at one of my worst horse shows ever--I'd fallen off TWICE in front of everyone. I was hurting and humiliated and disqualified and I wanted to pack up and go home. My Dad came up to me privately while I sat on the (hateful) horse in tears and wanted to sink through the ground. He told me that he didn't care if I ever rode well or ever sat on a horse again after that day. Life was bigger than horse shows. He cared about what kind of person I was and no matter what, I couldn't quit right then. I could quit tomorrow. I could quit next week. But that day, no matter what, I had to finish what I had started.
He was right. I finished. It was horrible. It was years before I ever won anything and it wasn't until my adult life that I was really any good at much. I'm still not great at riding, but I 100% know that I am a stronger, better person for what I learned through participating (and losing) at sports as a kid.
My dad still can't tell you what color/gender/type of horse I ride and that doesn't matter. The character lessons I learned from losing and trying anyways mattered far, far more to me in every aspect of my life than winning ever did.