Your child is into fencing. Really into fencing. They want to be at their fencing club five days a week, taking classes and private lessons and going to open fencing nights. They love to compete, and are willing to work hard to make their dreams of qualifying for top competitions. You’re a couple of years into this now, or maybe even a few years into it, and you know that fencing is not going anywhere.
But you’re tired. Exhausted by it. Your child has all of this enthusiasm, and that’s wonderful, but after a while you’re struggling to keep up your enthusiasm for them. There you are anyway, cheering from the sidelines as your child goes for another point, grunting and panting while you jump up and down in your “Best Fencing Mom Ever” sweatshirt. You love your kids, you love that they are fencers, and you want to love the sport!
What happens if you don’t though? Deep down, what if you secretly don’t like fencing at all? Maybe you find it boring or repetitive. You might not like that you can’t see the athletes’ faces or that it uses weapons, even if it is in a non-violent way. There are lots of people who don’t like fencing. That doesn’t make them bad people. Not even if those people who don’t like fencing are the parents of children who adore it.
Sports was never your thing
One major thing that many fencing parents struggle with is that sports was just never their thing to begin with. Maybe you were really into other things, like science clubs or books, but sports was not it. Maybe you tried them, played a season of this or that, but never got the sports fever. You might not even enjoy watching sports on TV.
When your child turned out to have a penchant for and a love of fencing, it might have caught you off guard. How could your child be so into a sport when it’s not your thing at all?
We tend to want our children to be like us, it’s a natural thing. If you were a bookworm as a kid or if you were really into art or music, you want your child to do that with you. Because you love it and you want to share it with them. If suddenly your child turns out to be very much into sports and not so much into your interests, that can be a real challenge.
You have to look at it from the angle that your child is not you, but that now you get to experience this whole new thing with them. That is not easy. I’m not at all implying that it’s easy. It’s hard work, but it’s growth. Embracing how our kids are independent of us can be a joy of parenting. We have to decide for it to be.
Take solace in knowing that fencing can be totally your child’s thing, but that it doesn’t have to be totally yours. You are allowed to have an identity outside of your child! For many of us parents, that seems unfathomable. Isn’t it selfish? No, it absolutely is not. Just as you wouldn’t force your child to be into something that they aren’t into, you need to model that by not pretending to be into something that you aren’t into.
This doesn’t mean you aren’t cut out to be a fencing parent! There are two parts of that identity – fencing AND parent. You are a parent first, and the fencing is on the outside of that. Your child is the fencer, and their love of it is what matters to you. In the end, they could be passionate about anything that’s positive and you would support them.
Does fencing season feel longer to you?
Another thing that sometimes makes parents question whether they are cut out to be fencing parents is simple fatigue.
It’s a lot of work to be a sports parent. You are on the go, taking kids to practice and picking up fencing gear off the floor. You’re tired and just want to go home to take a shower and go to bed after a day at work, but you find yourself hanging out after open fencing on a Thursday night while your avid little fencer is over talking with great excitement with their fencing friends about how they just snuck in that last touch to win the bout.
It’s not in your head that the fencing season feels longer the longer your child fences. It is actually longer the higher they climb in the sport. It’s also not in your head that you’re spending more time at the club every year, because you likely are spending a whole lot more time than you did that first season! Additional classes, open fencing, and private lessons tend to increase over time (to a point, there is a ceiling!).
Early on, your child is new and they simply won’t be at the level to qualify for the end of season competitions like Fencing Summer Nationals. Every fencer starts their season on the first of August. That’s across the board, no matter what age or level a fencer is at. Fencers don’t necessarily have to get right into the season on the first day, but competitions will be going and available. Through the season, competition gets to be more often. The question is then going to be when competition ends for a fencer. The regular season is over in late Spring, for fencers who don’t qualify for Fencing Summer Nationals. However if a fencer does qualify, then their season is going to extend on through the first week of July.
When and if your child gets to the level where they are competing at Fencing Summer Nationals, fencing season basically extends across forty-nine of fifty-two weeks in the year. That’s a lot! Especially when you realize that the year before when your child didn’t qualify, your season only went something like forty weeks.
Give yourself a break when you feel like fencing is going a lot more than it used to. It doesn’t just feel that way! It IS that way.
Your commitment to your kids is all that matters
What I know of fencing parents is that they come in with their support always on, whether they are particularly interested in fencing or not. Often we see fencing parents who learn to love the sport themselves, even join fencing following their child and become successful adult fencers! That’s ok if that’s not you though.
Here’s my point – it’s ok for you not to love fencing, even if your child does.
Sometimes parents put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be the best for our kids, and that pressure can be a lot. Your kids don’t mind that you are not a fencer yourself, or that you don’t love the sport unless they are in it. You are not less of a fencing parent for that!
You aren’t a bad fencing parent if you pay absolutely no attention to fencing outside of your child’s fencing. You don’t have to watch the Olympics or learn the names of great fencers of the past. You don’t have to have all the fencing parent gear or start to fence yourself. All your kids want from you is for you to be there for them. It’s not about the sport! It’s about your relationship with your child.
So if you are feeling down about yourself, that you are a terrible fencing parent and not cut out for it because you follow Lee Kiefer on Instagram or Race Imboden on Twitter, stop right there. No one is going to judge you as being a bad fencing parent for just being you. Get your child to practice, support them in their love of the sport, and don’t think about fencing all the time. You’re a great fencing parent, even if you don’t feel like you’re cut out for it!