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How to Be a Good Sports Parent

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Mishandling the Quit

Let's go to the replay: Your son begged for months to play hockey. You relented. You bought him the expensive equipment and drove him thrice weekly to practice (even rising at 5 a.m. to score that coveted ice time). Then one morning out of nowhere he says he wants to quit. Flabbergasted, you catalog for him the price of each piece of gear and then detail how your personal life has crashed and burned due to the obscene hours of his Neanderthal sport. You tell him there's no way he's bailing.

Breakdown the penalty: You don't want him to give up easily, especially after the investment you've made, and you don't want to raise a quitter. But take heed. "In response to their fear of failure, parents run themselves -- and their kids -- ragged," says Fish. If your son's approaching you after serious soul-searching, his concern is probably legit and should be taken seriously.

Your winning new move: Skip the speech and take a moment to breathe. "Listen to your child's specific concerns and see if it is best to encourage further participation," says Fish. Why does he want to quit: Is it burnout? The coach's behavior? Does he feel like he's not good enough? "Put your needs on the back burner and really listen," adds Fish. "That will allow for a better decision." Maybe that means he gracefully bows out, and you give him your blessing to do so.