As parents, we always want to be there for our kids. There’s no doubt that we love them, and to express that love we’re drawn to be right there with them, giving them everything we possibly can to support them as much of the time as possible.
This tends to be especially true of sports parents in general and fencing parents in particular. Showing up, both physically and emotionally, is important. There’s a cliche about the enthusiastic sports parent on the sidelines with the camera, clapping and shouting out their kid’s name, for a reason. It’s absolutely true.
Certainly, this kind of enthusiasm and this constant presence is a good thing. It must be, right? Not necessarily.
When support turns to stress
I recently had a long discussion with a fencing dad who said that his son always underperforms in competition. In class, the young man went at his opponents with wonderful focus and confidence, but once he got into the competition he was suddenly not as confident or as capable.
This father couldn’t imagine what must be happening because it seemed so night and day. The father didn’t come by to watch at practice often, but he was at every single competition right there on the side of the piste, cheering and watching intently.
My suggestion to the father was this – walk away. Though it can really help fencers to have someone there for them, it can also put a lot of pressure on them.