A few years ago I was at a New Year’s Eve party and a mom told me her 13-year-old was on an “elite” soccer team and they competed across the country.

I asked her, “Aren’t there good enough soccer teams in the Midwest they could play?” and she said, “No, there aren’t. We have to go to California and other places to find players competitive enough to beat our team.” My mouth dropped to the floor.

At first I felt a little taken aback.  I was thinking, “Wow. Our oldest isn’t on an ‘elite’ team and I started feeling bad.  And then I did a quick brain realignment and asked myself, “Is our daughter kind?  Is she generous?  Does she do volunteer work?”

I thought about the inner qualities that people never talk about.   No one says, “My daughter logged in 12 hours volunteering at Feed My Starving Children last month.”   Volunteering isn’t an activity that many parents have their kids pursue.

But don’t we want to raise children who are thoughtful? Who are kind? Who help others?

I think we’ve gone overboard as a culture in going to year-round sports for kids, multiple activities that kids are simultaneously involved in and the emphasis on winning rather than playing. I’d like to suggest that we readjust our values.

I’d like to see a balance of learning how to be empathetic, generous and kind, combined with the discipline, hard work and health benefits that sports and other activities can provide. I’d like to shift a child’s focus from “me” to “we” more often.

I’d like to see parents going out on dates once or twice a month and pursuing passions of their own.

What’s your opinion?


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