By Sarah McDonald
Total disclaimer even before I get started, I am a very proud mom. My children all have individual talents, and I have seen each (even at their tender ages) be successful. Please forgive what might come across as a little bragging in the writing that follows …
Secondary disclaimer, I write this not to judge other families’ choices and with complete acceptance that each family makes decisions based on what they feel is best for them and their children. This is just a glimpse into what we think is best for our family.
My oldest son is a talented athlete. He tends to be among the best on each of his teams in any sport he has tried. He has been “recruited” to play at various levels and all-star teams. Each time it comes up, he is very excited and proud, as he should be, of his accomplishment. Then comes the next question, “Doesn’t he want to focus on (fill in the sport of your choice) all year round?”
What? He’s 8. Isn’t he too young for this physically, mentally and emotionally? Plus, what kind of family life could we have with one of our family members traveling each weekend? It’s just too much, y’all!
As Catholic parents, we are supposed to set family priorities, and those priorities should be love and serve God, love our family and then everything else. How could we reconcile making one child’s activity a major focus of family life over the others?
We encourage all of our children, every day, to use all of their gifts and talents to the best of their ability, according to God’s will for them. It is something we pray out-loud in our morning prayers.
We love watching our son play ball. We also love to see all our children play soccer, build with blocks, dance, and, yes, even learn to play the dreaded recorder. We want our son, the gifted athlete, to excel in his sports of choice, but we do not want him to think his value as a child of God is based on his success as, let me repeat, an 8 year old. I want him and his brothers and sisters to be well-rounded and introduced to many activities and events individually and as a family.
My son’s dream right now is to play baseball for the Tigers and go on to the Majors for the Cubs. I think it is a beautiful dream, and I will encourage it. We will play ball and encourage him to work so he can be the best he can be. If, in the end, his dream comes true, there will be little else in the world that will give me more joy. And, if it comes true, I pray it comes to fruition with him grounded in the priorities that really matter: faith and family.