No longer “Stranger Things” Kids: How we parents can step back so our young players can step forward

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No longer “Stranger Things” Kids: How we parents can step back so our young players can step forward

I was watching the Netflix show “Stranger Things” with my kids.  After the show, my son said, “it’s a good show, but totally unrealistic”.  “How so?” I asked, assuming he was going to say the monsters didn’t look real or something.  Instead he said, “there is no way the parents would ever let their kids walk around like that all day and night without knowing exactly where they were and what they were doing”.  My how times have changed.

We modern parents tend to hover, just a bit, over our kids.  Did he just miss a shift? Why is she not on the top line? It’s 8-0, why isn’t the coach putting in my son on the power play line for god’s sake, the 1st line doesn’t need more practice!  If you’re a hockey parent you’ve heard the stories, but of course, they’re never about you. It’s some other crazed hockey mom or dad.

Last year my son made the B team.  Let’s rephrase that in crazy hockey parent mode.  Last year my son didn’t make the A team! That’s better.  One of his very good friends was also put on, I mean relegated to, the B team (he had been on the A team the previous year).  Both my son and his friend were delighted to be on the same team again. The parents, not so much. Yelling at coaches and administrators ensued followed by a resounding cry of “we the parents quit”.  They took their son to another club where, you guessed it, he made the B team.

The stories are everywhere, constant and forever.  The advice always the same, “Let your kids own their own hockey experience.  Back off.” Yeah, maybe your kid should have made the A team, or maybe their coach is mean or even sucks.  But it’s your kids’ coach, not yours and it’s your kids’ team, not yours. Enjoy it, complain about it to your friends and spouses, but let your kid fail.  Let your kid get treated unfairly, fight for something and maybe not get it, even unjustly! Let your kid own it.  Be there for support when it’s unfair, and cheer when they do something great.

A hockey scout once said, and I can’t remember who, “if your kid is that good, we will find him or her. Trust us, we will contact you.”

And yes, I admit I’m a hypocrite.  I try to follow the above advice, but damn if it isn’t hard.  But that story is for another day.

Matthew Crane, President


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