Art of Fencing, Art of Life

In Defense of Crazy Fencing Parents

In Defense of Crazy Fencing Parents

Written by an anonymous Crazy Fencing Parent

I’ve known some crazy fencing parents. I’m one myself.

Not that I scream curse words at the fencing referees when my child gets carded. Nor do I jump up and throw things when my young fencer loses a match. I don’t berate the coach if my child gets knocked out in the first DE or give evil looks to the opponent’s parents at competition. When my child doesn’t want to go to that private lesson or whines about the long drive to a fencing competition, I don’t get mad and yell at them.

That’s not being crazy, it’s being controlling. It’s being disrespectful. It’s the opposite of what the fencing community is about. Let’s be clear – doing those things is the mark of a disordered fencing parent. That kind of behavior gives youth sports a bad name, and I think we can all agree that no one likes to see it. The worst part is that behavior like that makes fencing unpleasant for kids!

I’m crazy in that I’m crazy in love with my child fencing.

Crazy in love with my child fencing

I’m the kind of parent that has a fencing bumper sticker on my car. The kind of parent who has fencing parent t-shirts and a spare protein bar in my purse at all times for my young athlete. I’m the parent who’s got a Pinterest board full of ideas for storing fencing equipment, cooking healthy meals, and prepping for tournament travel. (Granted I’ll probably never get to most of what’s on there!) I’m the kind of parent that reads fencing blogs to learn how to do this better!

I’d like to think of myself as the GOOD kind of crazy fencing parent.

What I love about being a fencing parent is the incredible growth that I see in my children. I’ve seen my kids blossom through fencing to become more confident, more independent, and happier! They’ve got goals that they want to reach, they make priorities, they work hard. The other adults they interact with and the positive relationships they form with their peers. The sibling relationships in my house are even better for fencing!

It’s not just the kid fencers who benefit

I’m also a crazy fencing parent because I’ve grown myself, even though I’m not the one on the strip holding a sword. Part of being a fencing parent is learning ourselves! How crazy is that?! Who would have ever thought that in all of these chaotic times, with the focus seemingly totally on the kids, that we parents would grow too.

Here are some of the crazy ways that fencing has helped me, the parent, grow.

I’m an amateur dietician

With my kids fencing and needing to fuel their athletic fire, I have had to learn how to feed them more effectively and efficiently. I’ve read and read and read on what the best food for young athletes is, and my house is now stocked with protein bars, oatmeal, far less sugar and far more whole foods than it was before I was a fencing parent. I now know the importance of hydration and eating small meals across the day. While we don’t eat perfectly by any stretch, I can definitely say that being a fencing parent has made me choose better food for our family. 

I’m a master multitasker

I hesitate to even really bring this up, because the expectations for parents to multitask can go extreme. Please know that I’m not here to pressure you or anyone. At the same time I’m really proud of the multitasking skills I’ve developed since being a fencing parent! I’ve learned to bake muffins for the tournament drive while soaking a load of fencing uniforms and quizzing my kids on their math facts. I’m shocked at how well I can keep it all straight while doing lots of things at once. It’s a skill I have grown so much with!

I’m a calendar champion

There’s nothing quite so beautiful as my calendar! I’m getting all fluttery thinking about it right now. It’s a truly marvelous thing, and it’s something I never did this well before I was a fencing parent. I’ve got it down to a science! Juggling competitions and training and school and work, I could not do it at all without a solid calendar. As for growth, this is a spot I feel it, because becoming a fencing parent forced me to get it together, and I love it.

I can identify weird smells

What’s that funk? Is it sweaty fencing shoes or a moldy yogurt pouch? Since becoming a fencing parent, I can name smells I never imagined I’d be able to name. Thank you fencing, thank you so much. 

I can let go of control

Fencing has helped be promote independence in my kids. I can’t hold onto them and protect them when they’re on the strip with a sword coming at them! I have learned so much about letting go of control as a fencing parent, and through that I’ve seen my children thrive on that independence. I took the act of letting go of control to an extreme level! Now I refrain from shouting instructions to my children during their bouts, and stopped dictating the steps for making parry-6, despite having watched a video tutorial countless times and memorizing the process. I don’t criticize referees for making bad calls when my children lose their bouts. Without fencing, I never would have believed how many amazing things my kids could do on their own. 

I can appreciate everyone

I’ve learned a crazy appreciation for the parents and volunteers who make tournaments run smoothly. For the coaches and staff at the club who make it all run smoothly too. I have learned to keep my cool and go with the flow as a fencing parent, to appreciate the effort rather than the outcome. That seems nuts! Instead of getting more uptight, I have insanely become less uptight and more appreciative. Sometimes I still get ornery about things for sure, and frustration comes up for me at times, but for the most part, I have learned to focus on my gratitude instead of the things that bother me. 

I adore my kids more

You know how when your child is born, you think that you couldn’t possibly love them more than you do in those first few weeks? I’ve shockingly discovered that the glow of adoration for my kids still shines that bright. When I see them step back from their frustration on the strip, or listen intently to their coach, or get that hard-won point, I find that same flood of happy emotions that I did in the early weeks with them. It’s sappy, but it’s true. With fencing, I’ve found this great culture that values what you put into the sport instead of what you win, and it’s helped me adore my kids even more!

Sometimes I feel really crazy for handing my child an actual sword – isn’t that the opposite of the kind of thing that a parent is supposed to do? Shouldn’t I be keeping them away from weapons? The simple fact of what fencing is with the swords makes me seem like a crazy parent. But a crazy parent with a gleam in my eye, and my kids have the gleam in their eyes too!

Through all of it, I embrace the wild ride that fencing is. I might not be your average parent, and I might be more enthusiastic than many people think is reasonable, but I can say that I’m happier and my kids seem happier for my giant feelings and unabashed adoration of this sport. 

So go ahead, call me a crazy fencing parent! I’ll take it any day. 


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1 Comment

  1. R

    Now take the step. Two USA fencing mothers became World Vet Champs. It could be you!

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