Parents, You Don't Need To Go To All Your Kids' Games

by Erika Hanson
Two boys playing soccer
fotokostic / Getty

“We should really get together for a drink? I could really use a night out,” says every mom I’ve ever met.

“How about Tuesday?” I ask. But her 10-year-old, Charlie, has a baseball game.


Another game.

Wait a second. Do YOU play baseball? Oh, just him? So you’re just watching him?

This weekend perhaps? We could go out as a couple? Oh, your brother and his wife are finally coming to visit you? They took a week off work, purchased plane tickets for their three kids and themselves, boarded the dog and rented a car all to come see you? That’s fantastic! You’ve complained about how they never come visit you for so long — great to hear.

Oh… Clara has soccer: games and weekend tournament, plus practice. And Charlie has two baseball games, plus practice. Of the 6 nights they’ll be here, you have sporting events to attend 5 of the nights.

By now, we’ve all read enough to know that our kid probably isn’t going to be a professional athlete. We jokingly say that we know this fact, but part of us still wants to believe it might happen. We’ve seen enough ESPN to remember the players who thanked their moms for coming to every game.


Look, it won’t be your kid.

Even the odds of playing a sport in college are pretty slim. According to the NCAA statistics, the estimated probability of your kid competing in college athletics is very small. Males: 3.4% of basketball players, 7.1% of baseball players, 6.9% of football players. Females: 7.1% of soccer players, 7.4% of swimmers, 3.9% of volleyball players.

So face it: it’s highly unlikely that they’ll be publicly thanking you on Draft Day. But I wonder what the chances of your kids being at a wedding/funeral/holiday with your brother, sister-in-law and nieces is? I’m guessing a lot higher. Maybe that’s the skill they should be practicing more?

We all saw The Blind Side. She went to all of his games. So must I!

I’m quite sure that if your kid does,in fact, beat the odds and go pro, your kid will not feel sad that you missed an occasional game to volunteer, develop a friendship, spend time with your brother and sister-in-law and nieces, or help in the community.

Imagine how much pressure going to every game puts on a kid. Are they playing to entertain you, or because they enjoy the sport? In a viral post, Rachel Stafford wrote that there are “6 words you should say today.” I’ve seen this shared over and over again on social media.

The six words are this: I love to watch you play.

How much pressure is that for a kid? I’m a kid and you love to watch me play so muchthat you never go out with friends, you never have date night with dad, you never volunteer, you rarely cook, you schedule my siblings’ meals/free-time around my games/practices, you never entertain because the house is always a disaster because you’re at every game…that’s a lot of subconscious pressure on a kid.

Oh, but you’re the volunteer coach? How can you skip? Kudos to you for stepping up and coaching. You deserve a chance to skip the game and have a parent who never misses a game do the coaching.

Look, I love watching my kid play. But he needs to be playing because he loves it. Not because he looks up in the stands and sees my smiley face bursting with joy over watching him play. He needs to see me putting those less fortunate above him occasionally by my volunteering in the community. He needs to see me having a life outside of his sporting events every now and then.