06 January 2010

Oh crap, is this me?

9 Year Old Marvel What? But How?

In this thread on the Masters swimming forum, the guy asks a pretty innocuous question but quickly starts inadvertently revealing a lot about himself. He's one of the bad kind of swim parents, those that are over-involved but doesn't realize it. Those that are obviously over-involved are easy to dismiss. But, those in denial? That say they're just looking out for their kid's best interest? Eck.

The problem is, I straddle that line. I am a ridiculously supportive father; I assist and help and encourage and really do all the right things. But it's the assist and help parts that can very quickly go wrong.

Read the thread linked above, outwardly this guy isn't so bad but he is way too involved in his daughter's coaching and consistently presents the situation through his eyes and only through his daughter's when getting defensive.

I try to react the same way win or lose, good time or bad but I can't always do that since I want her to do well so badly. The one thing I've been very good at is that I don't coach her, I support her. Her coach rocks, all I really have to do is make sure she's at the meet and has proper clothing and food for the conditions. Yet I still walk to the blocks with her, hold her towel while she warms up and down, and track her times so she doesn't have to. Seems a bit over-involved, doesn't it?

Where I'm really on thin ice is during her team's breaks. I hate the idea of a 4 week break, it's just too hard to stay in swim shape if you don't swim at all for that long. Worse yet, she gets cranky as hell during that break. So I insist that she swim 1 to 3 times per week, either at the same time as I do or with a workout that her coach developed for her. She's 9, she probably doesn't need that, I can just have her run around the block a few times to wear off that excess energy.

I'm not even going to get into my addiction to her times, my spreadsheets are overwhelmingly complex, intricate, detailed and over-thought. She doesn't know the level that I obsess on that and probably never will. My only defense is that I did the same thing with my baseball cards when I was a kid and track my own workout times pretty religiously. I like numbers.

So, I think I'm a borderline obsessed parent and should probably back off while keeping the good things: that look she gives me right after a swim when she swam fast, the fun of having her teach me stroke technique, my spreadsheet, etc. But maybe I should stop caring if she goes to 2 or 3 practices per week. Possibly stop carrying her towel all around the pool every meet. And definitely don't talk about time standards around her.


  1. At least you're an analytical, self-aware, and supportive over-involved parent. I'm in my seventh year as a youth baseball coach and I've seen far worse from folks that have no idea how poorly they're behaving.

  2. CSD, just the fact that you are asking the question shows you're not like that. You've just discoved the best part of parenting. When your kid gets YOU involved in something THEY love. A year from now Chopstick may have moved on to ballroom dancing, but I suspect you will still be swimming.. and maybe dancing too.