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quit sports

It’s Okay to Feel Disappointed When Your Kids Quit Sports

Your kid quit sports, and you hate that you feel disappointed. Here are some good things that might come from your kid quitting sports.

Can we talk about parenting disappointment?

I don’t mean the socially acceptable disappointments like binge drinking or wrecking the car or failing classes. I mean times when we HAD A PLAN (a good, thought-out plan) that our kids decided NOT to follow and the disappointment hits unexpectedly (and annoyingly) hard.

My high school-age son quit soccer.

At first, I was okay with it.
But then he got asked to play on a just-for-fun winter league with his former team (“wear the red uniforms!”), and when I saw all those boys walk out with the new uniforms and my son wearing last year’s, my stomach twisted into a left-out-knot. Later, I questioned my son’s choice, “Soccer is so fun, why are you quitting?” He wavered but landed on his initial decision.
That night, I tucked myself under a blanket of disappointment and stared at the ceiling hating that I felt such big emotions over soccer. Because we’re not supposed to feel disappointed when our kids choose a different path. We remember the “miscarriage” or “hard pregnancy” or “infertility” days, and we know that we’re crazy-lucky to have kids.
But, guess what, moms and dads…

Parenting naturally evokes big emotions, and we GET TO FEEL.

We get to feel disappointed because we like sports, played sports, get how it all works, and wanted to share our knowledge with our kids.
We get to feel a loss because we loved watching our teens play and hanging out with the other parents.
We get to feel sad about not having the car rides home to talk about the game, grab a hamburger, and crank up the music.
We get to feel the let-down of not connecting with our kids anymore over something we love.
And we get to feel panicked because being a teammate teaches so many great life skills and provides an automatic community, and it seems like they’re going to miss out.
About soccer or AP classes or music or whatever that thing that YOU love that your kids are not having right now.
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They’re our feelings, and we get to FEEL all of them. Guilt-free – big emotions are a part of the parenting experience. But then, somewhere in the middle of the heart storm, let’s also remind ourselves of something else: what we KNOW.

God cares about our children way more than we can fully comprehend and is moving in their lives in mighty ways.
For example, maybe not playing soccer again will be the best thing that’s ever happened to my son.
Maybe the change is because he will meet new friends, perhaps even people he needs to know. (Like my friend who met in high school someone who helped him get into his current profession where he’s thriving.)
Maybe the change is because he’s going to get involved in something different and discover new sides of himself. (Like some of my high school students who have quit sports, taken more leadership roles in clubs, and flourished in new ways.)
Maybe the change is because he needs to slow down and the break from hurry-hurry is going to do wonders to his mood and attitude.
Maybe the change needs to happen for him to gain confidence in making choices and discerning the whispers of God’s voice – all in a low-stakes environment wrapped in the safety of our home.
Maybe my teen has learned all he needs to learn from the sport, and it’s time to move on.

So, about those parenting disappointments, I say – feel them.

Feel them deep and hard.
Then zoom out.
And remind ourselves what we KNOW: we might feel some loss to not connecting with our kids in one of the ways we envisioned, but only a minute’s worth. Because there’s much gain – crazy amounts of gain – in watching our children grow up into their own beautiful selves.

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