February 12, 2011

How to: Be Fair To Your Non-Skaters

You're probably not superbly rich, but you probably do have more than one child. That's the sort of household I grew up in, and I'm guessing I'm not the only skater from a working class family whose parents juggled skating with the whole other realm that is family life.

Yes, it would be lovely indeed, to call Jeeves to collect Skating-Sister from school, cook her dinner, help with homework, make that crafts project, and keep a watchful eye on the friends she has over. But I didn't live in fantasy-dream-land, and chances you don't either!

Skating is demanding, we've all figured that out by now. What's-more, it is exponentially so. The further down the line you are, the more effort it takes to get just 5% more ready for that competition. Skating is a black hole of emotional and financial investment, sucking the very life from you at times. But you're not the only one, what about the toll it's taking on other family members?

If you have non-skating children, sooner or later you'll here the "it's not fair I never see you/don't get as much argument". I didn't realise at the time, but with hindsight I feel pretty guilty about my sister and how many hours she spent alone at home. Granted, she was old enough to be loving the independence, but was it really fair?

Make sure your non-skater is catered for. I've got to hand it to my parents, my sister played instruments, participated in school activities, and later went on to be a core member of the schools lighting team, working on every theatre-based production going (always was good with electrics, my sis!). Making sure your non-skater is fulfilling his or her dreams is just as important as your skater getting in that extra ice time, and their needs must be treated with the same importance and urgency as any other family member.

You can't buy love. It's not just about being financially fair. Don't get me wrong, this is important to simply make sure you're meeting the demands of each of your children, but it's not always enough alone to satisfy the needs of a child. If your kid needs times with you, make sure they get it. I'm not saying drop commitments and run, but make sure that while you are scheduling in the next 2 weeks activities there is some "us time" in there somewhere.

Make them important in the skating environment. My sister came to all my competitions, and was chief score-taker. Ahhh, the golden olden-days of open 6.0 marking!! She would take it all down, and calculate placings before they were even announced. This might have really bored her to the core, but it never looked that way to me, and I felt super supported having her there. Every one can play a role in the skating lifestyle, given the chance.

Although this may seem like simple parenting-101, it can be all too easy to lose sight of things mid-season, when tensions are running high and you just have to get to that extra practice session. Make sure both parents are pulling their weight and giving to each and every child. No one need feel left out, nor be pushed into something that would be detrimental to them and the things they care about (try not to insist Non-Skater comes along to a 3 hour practice if s/he has an academic exam the next day!).

Be fair, be open, be attentive, and listen to their needs. Be the great parent you know you are, and for heavens sake, don't let skating get in the way!!

Have any questions, want to know more, don't agree? Please leave me a comment!
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