If I knew the changes that would be required before I had kids then I would have probably not had kids. The irony is that would have been a mistake because I didn’t know the scale of the changes that were coming, regardless.
In my life there wasn’t any real impact until my oldest was two-years old then I was faced with a decision:
- Let my wife’s mental health suffer and risk the health of my marriage
- Get involved
My choice, somewhat reluctantly at the time, was to get involved. At first I didn’t notice much change but it became clear that to be at my best as a parent, I had to avoid being tired. Here’s the dilemma of the parent-athlete:
- Parenting is misery when exhausted
- Fatigue is an essential component in the journey towards improved athletic performance
So, you’re likely to find yourself at a crossroads for a period of time. I suspect that time will last until our youngest is about five years old. Within my own family, I’m guessing that 2010 to 2017 is going to see a reduced focus on athletic performance. I have many ideas about being an athletic parent that I’ll share in an upcoming article.
At the end of my family’s preschooler phase, I’ll be faced with another choice, ramp my training back up (perhaps Monday to Friday during school hours) or put that time into an area that benefits my family directly.
When my youngest starts her formal schooling (2017) will be the same time that my oldest has the intellectual capacity to begin to absorb the lessons that I’ve picked up outside of school. My teaching style is instruction via “hanging out.”
I suspect that my children gain more from having a healthy and engaged father than a parent who chooses winning over spending time with them.
At the other end of a spectrum, a famous parent once shared that his #1 focus is being the fittest masters athlete in the world. I felt for the children in that family.
The rationalizations elite athlete-parents spin in their heads color their judgement in all aspects of their lives. For me, the likelihood of regret: for my marriage and for my kids; makes that path unappealing.
That said, I have a passion for sport and sustaining a personal passion makes me a better parent.
As a group, the actions of elites and elite AGers show that we value winning over all else. My kids learn far more easily, and deeply, from observing my choices, rather than listening to my words. Don’t let our twitter feeds convince you otherwise – look to our choices and our daily actions.
Our children only get one childhood – opportunities for personal glory will remain far beyond their school years.