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Frank Smoll discusses how youth sport parents can maintain marital bliss in this Psychology Today post

How to Help Your Marriage Survive Youth Sports

Counteracting disruptions associated with being a sport parent.

Frank L. Smoll Ph.D.

Coaching and Parenting Young Athletes

How do youth sports fit in with family life?

A sport environment is a place where husbands and wives can actually witness and enjoy the growth and development of their children. Parents can’t sit in a classroom and watch academic skills blossom. But in sports, they can have a sideline seat to the development of their child's athletic and social skills. Dedicated parents can take advantage of this significant window of opportunity. Consequently, sports can be a positive element in family growth and solidarity.

  • Any time parents share significant experiences with their children, it can help build stronger family ties.
  • Stronger bonds can be forged not only between parents and children but also between the parents themselves.

Despite the above, youth sports can affect spousal relationships in negative ways. Couples need to be aware of this fact and to be prepared to counteract the potential pitfalls.

How can youth sports disrupt family harmony?

It’s important for youth sport parents to be aware of what’s likely to be required and how much time and effort they are willing to devote. Once involved in a program, moms and dads should also keep in mind that they can easily be seduced into more and more involvement. Before they know it, their responsibilities can snowball.

Many families find that practices are held during the dinner hour and that their kitchen becomes a cafeteria with several shifts. The fun and togetherness of family meals can become a thing of the past. For most families, this is only a seasonal happening. But for families whose youngsters are heavily involved in sports, this becomes the normal pattern of living. Spouses and children can begin to feel neglected.

What can couples do to compensate for the demands that youth sports can make on their relationship?

Here are some tips for dealing effectively with the special challenges of being youth sport husbands and wives.

  • Find ways to spend adequate time with all your children, particularly those who are not involved in sports.
  • Likewise, it’s important for spouses to devote time to their own relationship. Private moments spent away from the children can serve to maintain and invigorate their marriage. Recreational pursuits for you and your spouse, an occasional weekend away by yourselves, dinners out, and the cultivation of interests you share in common can help maintain the sparkle in your marriage.
  • All couples must continue to find ways to improve communication. Get into the habit of talking regularly about your thoughts and, especially, your feelings. As long as the lines of communication are kept open and problems openly discussed, your relationship with your loved ones can not only endure but deepen.