Nurturing Growth: The Right Mix of Expectations in Fencings

So, we’re in the fencing game, cheering for our kids, dreaming of those podium moments, national team nods, and maybe even a scholarship. Let’s be honest; fencing is no cheap sport, and our time investment is off the charts. We’re in it for the victories, both big and small, because seeing our kids succeed is the ultimate payday for our efforts.

But here’s the twist—amidst the medal dreams and ranking goals, we might be missing the forest for the trees. The focus on external validation shouldn’t overshadow the real gem—the incredible journey our kids are on. We need to find that sweet spot where ambitious dreams meet the everyday joys of fencing. And heck, that’s not that easy!

Beyond the Strips: Growing Amazing Humans

I wrote time and again that fencing isn’t just about parries and lunges; it’s a character-building bonanza. Our kids are soaking up life skills like sponges. They’re learning tenacity—pushing through exhaustion and brushing off discouragement. Those long training days? They’re building a work ethic that the kids will carry with them through their whole lives. The mental gymnastics of fencing? That’s the focus that’ll serve them well, on and off the strip, now and for many years later.

Responsibility? You bet. Our young fencers are learning to care for themselves, their equipment, and their training and competition regime. Friendships are blooming within the fencing family, creating bonds that go beyond wins and losses. Resilience is on the curriculum—taking a hit and bouncing back stronger. Goal setting isn’t just about tournaments; it’s a life skill. And let’s not forget the freedom from screens. In a world gone digital, fencing offers a real-world escape. Add to the mix travel to tournaments, visiting different cities, navigating airports and hotels, and you realize that the kids are exposed to a much broader world than their immediate surroundings, learning how to navigate this world.

Tiny victories, those little moments of pride—these are the building blocks of something much bigger. So, while we’re dreaming of gold, let’s not miss the bronze of personal growth and development.

Navigating Expectations: A Balancing Act

But does this mean that we should take a hands-off approach to how we deal with fencing? Should we, as parents, completely let go of all our expectations, requirements, and demands? I don’t think this would be the right approach. 

So now, let’s talk about expectations. We want our young athletes to aim high, but we’re also walking a tightrope. Our enthusiastic sideline presence is a double-edged sword. Yes, we’re their biggest fans, but sometimes, we definitely add a dose of stress. It’s a delicate dance.

We cannot leave our young fencers totally off the hook, but we also should not overwhelm them with too many expectations. We’ve got to gauge the vibe and know when to dial it up or down. Expectations are like spices in a dish—just enough enhances the flavor, too much ruins it.

Here’s the deal: expectations are the fuel, but attachment to outcomes is the hitchhiker we didn’t mean to pick up. Too much focus on specific results can rob the journey of its joy. We’re here to nurture growth, not to strangle it with unrealistic demands.

As parents invested in our children’s fencing journey, we naturally carry expectations. It’s part of the parenting package, and it is important not to dismiss it. We want our young athletes not just to participate but to fully engage in deriving valuable lessons beyond the bouts and competitions. So, it’s important to understand this delicate balance of expectations, a nuanced dance that shapes their growth in the sport.

Expectations, when set thoughtfully, become the compass guiding our children through their fencing endeavors. It’s not about demanding medals or podium finishes but instilling a commitment to doing their best. From the youngest beginners to the seasoned competitors, each child benefits from knowing that their efforts matter, that improvement is a victory in itself.

Consider it akin to a roadmap, outlining the values and skills we hope they cultivate through fencing. It’s about expecting them to navigate wins and losses with resilience, to absorb the teachings of every class, and to forge friendships that extend beyond the confines of the strip. These are the expectations that form the bedrock of character development.

Tailoring Expectations to Individual Growth

The tricky part is not in having expectations but in tailoring them to fit the unique journey of each young fencer. Age, seniority in fencing, skill level – these factors influence the expectations we set. For the novice, it might be about learning the basics and savoring the joy of the sport. For the seasoned competitor, it could involve setting performance goals while still cherishing the process.

It’s crucial to communicate these expectations, making them a shared understanding rather than an external imposition. By involving our children in the expectation-setting process, we convey that their voice matters. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of ownership and commitment to their personal growth.

The Perils of Unrealistic Expectations

While expectations are essential, a word of caution is due. Unrealistic or excessive expectations can turn the joy of fencing into a pressured ordeal. It’s like asking a sapling to bear fruit before its time. Our role is to nurture, not to burden.

Imagine a tree – too little water, and it withers; too much, and it drowns. Similarly, expectations, when excessive, can drown the joy, spontaneity, and love for the sport. The goal isn’t to stifle but to create an environment where expectations serve as stepping stones, not stumbling blocks.

The Dance of Encouragement and Freedom

In this delicate dance of expectations, our role as parents is to offer both encouragement and freedom. Encouragement is the cheerleader, rooting for their progress, acknowledging the small victories, and providing a safety net when they stumble. Freedom, on the other hand, is the open field where they can explore, experiment, and find their unique rhythm.

Let’s not shy away from expectations; let’s craft them as tools for growth. Let’s be the guides who, with a well-balanced mix of encouragement and freedom, nurture resilient, passionate, and growth-oriented young fencers. It’s not just about the bouts; it’s about the journey, and together, let’s make it a fulfilling one.