Thursday, June 25, 2009

What to say before your figure skater takes to the ice

If you’re the parent of a teen, you know that no matter what you say, your teen will twist your words and create pre-competition drama.

Maybe that’s just my teen, but I don’t think so.

Ideally, you leave your figure skater with her coach, grab a cup of hot cocoa or coffee and huddle under a blanket in the stands until your skater’s event. Leave the coach to handle the unpredictable hormones and angst.

But sometimes you are with the kid before she takes to the ice. What do you say?

What you say: Skate great! Yeah, it rhymes and looks good on a license plate (sk8gr8), but it’s loaded.
What teens think: What if I don’t skate great? What if I fall on my butt?

What you say: Good luck! It’s a good thing to say, right? Wrong.
What teens think: My mom thinks I’m a terrible skater and I need luck to succeed.

What you say: Have fun! This seems pretty positive, pretty harmless.
What teens think: This isn’t fun; I’m a wreck.

What Ice Dad says: Kill! Hello? Competitions are not your comedy stage, Ice Dad.
What teens think: I’m worried someone will notice that he’s my dad. Why does Mom let him out in public?

What you say: Be careful on that landing. Remember to keep your head up.
What your teens think: She’s not my coach. She doesn’t even know how to tie a skate. Why is she telling me this?

What you say: Now, listen to your coach, honey. We’ll be watching you from the stands. Everything’s going to be O.K. I’m sure you’ll do well. Hey, these words are reassuring to you as the parent, but not to your figure skater.
What teens think: Mom’s worried. I should worry.

Here’s what to do.

Say: I love you.
What teens think: My parents love me no matter how I skate.

Outwitted the little buggers, haven’t I? Now, if you could just tell me how to keep my husband from opening his mouth and we’ll all be fine. Muzzles haven’t worked. So far.


Anonymous said...

I love your advice. The last statment is priceless. I have a teenager and you are so right. You wonder after they turn 13 if they are still listening to you or if they care about what you have to say. I Love You! is perfect. This lets them know that no matter what happens on the ice they still matter to you. The best advice you can give is leaving them in the hands of there coach. Many parents want to hover because they are nervious. This only makes there skater more nervious and it is the coaches job to help the skater control their nerves and focus on the task at hand. Thank you for writing your blog. Parents really need someone who understand what they are feeling and what there kids are thinking.

Anonymous said...

This also works for hockey players.

Jillybean said...

I always say "Have fun! I love you." then I hand her over to her coach. My skater is only 11, so we don't have the whole teenager thing happening quite yet.
One time when I was coaching I had one mom who actually stood next to me while her daughter was on the warm up at the competition!

ann said...

My daughter is 9 and just starting to compete. She's actually only done 4 single competitions, but a lot of synchro. I just say have fun and do the best you can. I have also competed in adult competitions and it is so scary to go out and skate by yourself. I always felt I could do a lot better if I just enjoyed myself. I also love your blog. I'm learning a lot.

Lorraine said...

I love the advice.