Is It Important to Attend Your Child’s Extra-Curricular Events?

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,

What are your thoughts on the importance of parents attending their kids’ sports events? I know some parents have to work and may not be able to, but should they find a way to go? Do you think it makes a difference in their kids’ lives?

Gary P.

Dear Gary,

I do think that it is so important for parents to go to their children’s sporting events! Or any extra-curricular activity. I think it gives children a sense of being cared about, supported, and it builds their confidence. And I would take it a step further and say that bringing siblings along to support them is also very important. And if you do that, make sure that they support each other. You do not want one child to always in attendance to their sibling’s games, but the other sibling does not do the same in return.

I know that a lot of parents work and are unable to attend their children’s events. This is where parents need to think outside the box. Is there a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or someone else who can attend? Even a neighbor or an adult friend of the family. I have three children and so often they had games at the same time. So I would go to one, my husband would go one, and my very supportive mom would go to the third game. We would make sure that we all rotated so that one child did not feel slighted about one of us not going to their game as often as possible.

If you do not have a relative to fill-in for you, then ask a neighbor or family friend. And explain to your child how sad you are that you will not be at the game, and that you will do your best to get updates if you are often. Encourage your “substitute” to take videos and pictures, and ask your child to give you the play-by-play afterwards. 

With this being said, make sure your attendance is a positive experience for your child. Do not berate them for how they played, or go off on how dumb the coach is because he or she did not put your child into the game. Keep your comments positive right after the game, And I would wait a day or two for your child to process their performance before you discuss it with them. And when you do, be sure to tread lightly. As parents we seem to get way more worked up than our children do when it comes to sports. Keep it as light as possible, and if your child expresses that he or she would like to play better, or get more playing time, then have a positive and constructive discussion on how you can support them to make this happen. But give them the tools to make it happen. This could be practicing more, or role-play with them talking to their coach. Do not do it for them! The bottom line is that they enjoy the sport or activity, and that you do not make it unpleasant, or make it all about you.