The Balancing Act : A Parent's Perspective
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Insights from a baseball dad. 
A Parent's Perspective

The Balancing Act

by David (Shiva) Gaskins on 05/05/13

The other day I was thinking how with most professions you don’t need to start committing to it until you’re in College, perhaps some in High School.  While with other pursuits, you have to begin working toward it when you’re a child.  If you want to be a doctor, for example, or a lawyer, you don’t truly begin working towards that dream until you’re in College.  However, if you dream of becoming a world class dancer, or Olympic skating champion, you must begin when you’re .  For kids that have these dreams, the challenge is how to balance the commitment, time, steadfastness, and sacrifice it takes to achieve this dream with the natural impulse to be…well…a child, and do normal child things.   This is the challenge I’m having now with my son.  He sincerely wants to play ball in College and beyond if that works out.  However, we’re now bumping up against having to make decisions with short term Middle School kid desires on one hand and long-term goals on the other.  Do we attend practice or accept the invitation to a friend’s party, for example?    

I heard once someone talk about how in order to drive a car straight you don’t actually hold the steering wheel still without moving it.  Going straight is actually a series of miniscule turns of the wheel left and right as you continually try to maintain a balance in order to go straight.  This is what I feel I’m doing with my son.  We’re continually trying to balance allowing him to have a ‘normal’ childhood while also keeping in mind that if he wants to achieve his goals there are some sacrifices to make.  

Here’s an example.  Having been accepted into his High School of choice, I felt we needed a year plan to get him ready and prepared.  Of course, in my exuberance and all to familiar over-the-top-ness, I put together a plan that included practicing 2 hours a day for 4 days a week.   It was ridiculous but it was a starting point.  I presented it to my son and of course he didn’t like it. It was too much. Then he said something that struck me.  He said ‘I’m still just in 8th grade, I also want to do normal 8th grade stuff.’  He was right, of course.  He had been playing ball almost a year straight without a real break.  So the plan for the year relaxed a bit.  I decided not to push too much now, and just let him play on his Travel team and have fun with his Middle School team.  We’ve planned out the summer and it’s not too intense but does include some things that will help prepare him for High School.  Again, it was important for me to listen to him and let him drive as much as possible.

Comments (2)

1. Christine said on 7/26/13 - 10:44PM
Awesome. Your willingness to listen to your son and to check within will serve you and your son (and your relationship) well. It's inspiring. I have to check my motives when I feel myself pushing against my son's resistance to play. Is it fear, laziness, shyness, my own sense of wanting him to find a sport to make up for life's challenges, etc. Thanks!
2. Glen Porter said on 11/13/13 - 10:38AM
I've been involved in baseball as long as I can remember and think it's the greatest sport in the world. I started playing with my Grandson when he was 3 and realized he had the potential to be a very good baseball player. He's now 10 and playing on a travel ball team in Antioch, CA. A few weeks ago, he was asked to play in a weekend tournament for the 10U Gamechangers because they needed a player. Coach Thomas Gary and his crew are maybe the best I've seen working with young boys about how the game is played. They teach it all, starting with respect of the game, respect of each other and respect of themselves. This team just won a 4 game tournament in Freemont this past weekend and they get better every day; a lot better every day. This is where your son should be playing baseball if he's serious about the the game.

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