Letting Go – When Parenting Moves To The Side Lines

When I realized that it was my #16, writhing in pain on the grass, my stomach cliff dived. In 6 years of football, I have seen 3 kids taken off the field by ambulance, and numerous  hard hits.  In 6-years of football, this was the first time my son lay squirming flat on his back.

When a player is hurt all the players take a knee, and no one is allowed to run to his aid – that’s the coaches job. The coaches walk slowly across the field, and it is an unspoken rule that the parent stays in the stands and just watches.

Having to sit on a cold bench with my son in pain, not knowing what the injury is, and a slow walking coach, is one of the worst parenting feelings. It’s emotional torture. As this hit took place recently my mind began to play images of me running across the field, arms open screaming “My baby!!! My baby!!! Are you okay?! , But all I could do was sit and watch from the side, and wait, and whisper under my breath a few Dutch prayers. The coach came over after what felt like an hour, and within a few minutes my son was on his feet. The crowd cheered, their star player was back up, shaking off his hit. I was left trying to shake off mine.


Tears began to roll out from under my sunglasses, thank God I wore them.

As my children get older, my oldest almost 18, parenting is beginning to change. When they are young I’m in-control mostly. But as they get older and more independent, I find myself having to sit on the sides watching  them take hits. It is such a helpless feeling as a parent. I don’t get to run out anymore and yell “I’ve got this!”  I have to pray under my breath… “You’ve got this, right God?” Parenting is now becoming more about being a witness to my child’s fails, hurts and pains, knowing that I shouldn’t or can’t always run out in the field. Sometimes all you can do is will with all your might for them to get up.

Will this be the hit that takes them out?

Will this be a hit that changes their course of life?

With football there are great risks, yet the thrill, confidence and life experiences are invaluable. If we take them out of the game because we don’t want them to get hurt, they hurt anyway, but by our doing.

With football there are great risks, yet the thrill, confidence and life experiences are invaluable. If we take them out of the game because we don't want them to get hurt, they hurt anyway, but by our doing. Click To Tweet

I quickly wiped my tears away and within 20 minutes my son was being screamed at by 20 excited parents as he ran a 64 yard touchdown from the punt return. We all laughed as he bowed regally in the end zone.

“You did a 64 yard touchdown and you bowed?!” We joked. Patting him on the back after the game. He boasted and laughed about getting knocked flat. He was proud of the hit he took.

I’ll never never get comfortable with sitting on the side lines of my older kid’s lives, and watching them take hits. However, I will never never grow tired of rejoicing over my children’s victories. And victories often arise from overcoming the hits.

I'll never never get comfortable with sitting on the side lines of my older kid's lives, and watching them take hits. However, I will never never grow tired of rejoicing over my children's victories. And victories often arise from… Click To Tweet

It takes great courage to be parent.










2 thoughts on “Letting Go – When Parenting Moves To The Side Lines”

  1. Lisa Hall-Wilson says:

    Yes – I know this feeling. My daughter started doing competitive cheerleading at age 11. She did it for four years moving into the elite teams. I saw girls carried off the floor immobilized on stretchers. I’ve watched girls break ankles and keep going (not joking).
    I learned to cheer and pray hard, but it also taught me that they still need a parent’s wisdom. My daughter sprained her ankle doing backwards half-twisting layouts. Two others on her team were out for various time periods because of concussions. Sometimes you have to step in as a parent and say you have your whole life ahead of you and you’re only given one body. Take care of it.

    1. Sarah E Ball says:

      It’s so true Lisa. The wisdom to know when to step in and when to butt in, that’s the hard part!

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