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Home Youth Hockey Your Child Quits Hockey: When the Dream Melts Away

Your Child Quits Hockey: When the Dream Melts Away

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Shane Bailey

What happens when your child decides to stop playing hockey?

Your Child Quits Hockey: When the Dream Melts Away

When it comes to youth sports, few activities stir as much passion, dedication and pride as hockey. For many parents, watching their child lace up their skates and hit the ice is not just a pastime but also a cherished dream. It’s a dream that one day, their child might don the jersey of an NHL team.

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However, the dreams of a parent do not always align with the desires of their child. When a young hockey player decides to hang up their skates and pursue other interests, it can be a profound and sometimes challenging experience for the parent who has invested so much time, energy and emotion in their child’s hockey journey.

As a hockey parent, you have spent years waking up before sunrise, getting them to their practice or games. From the very beginning you were there, from the moment your child took their first steps onto the ice. You dutifully helped them to dress, tie their skates and get them out on the ice in time.

Beginnings

It often begins with the “cheese grater” double-blade skates, with you hunched over helping them learn to skate. From those early moments, a special bond forms between you and your child: you share in their victories and defeats as well as the ups and downs. The hockey parent is fully committed to nurturing their talent, providing both physical (and financial) support as you both foster a love for the game.

The hours devoted to shuttling to and from practices allowed you to form friendships with other hockey parents, sharing in carpooling and more. Cheering from the stands as you struggled to keep warm, and sacrificing your time and energy to ensure your child had every opportunity to succeed. You pushed hard for your child, dealing with coaches to ensure they were being treated fairly.

Considerable sums of money were spent on equipment (especially if your child was a goalie!), league fees, etc. And when travel hockey is factored in the cost goes up exponentially—travel to games, accommodations, meals, fees and more.

This investment goes beyond just the financial; it is a commitment of your heart and soul.

For many hockey parents, their child’s success on the ice becomes intertwined with their own sense of pride and joy. Their hopes and dreams feed off their accomplishments. If your child has a good game and does very well, you the parent stand out. From my own experience, there were games where my child performed so well that I too was swept up in the limelight of adulation and praise lavished on my child. Suddenly, I was a rock star.

You dream of seeing them move up the ranks, hoping that one day they will be drafted and make it to the big leagues.

Then one day, it ends: your child quits hockey. Just when you are floating on a cloud, basking in the glow of their athletic achievements, there comes the day when your child announces their decision to step away from the game. This might start with an offhand comment about wanting to try a new sport or pursue other interests outside of hockey.

At first, you might dismiss this as a passing phase. But as time goes on the reality begins to sink in: your child quits hockey and their athletic career will soon be over.

For some parents, this realization is often met with a sense of disbelief or even denial. They may struggle to come to terms with the idea that all the sacrifices made may not conclude with the dream they had envisioned. There can be a sense of loss, as if a part of their identity as a hockey parent is slipping away. Then come the thoughts like, did I do something wrong? What could I have done to keep them more interested in the game? And last but not least, what will I do with all this free time now?

Range of Emotions

For hockey parents, this range of emotions when faced with such a significant shift in their child’s aspirations is quite natural. There may be sadness for the loss of what could have been, pride in their child’s decision to follow their own path, and uncertainty about what the future holds. There will be a period of adjustment as their expectations are recalibrated, and their role in their child’s life beyond the hockey rink is redefined.

One of the greatest challenges for hockey parents facing this situation is learning to let go of your own dreams and ambitions, and instead focus on supporting their child’s decision, whatever path it may take. It requires a shift in perspective. It means celebrating your child’s successes—whether they are from the hockey rink or in other areas of life.

Sure, when your child quits playing hockey the transition can be difficult. Nevertheless, it can also be an opportunity for growth and self-discovery for both you and your child. Freed from the pressures of pursuing a hockey career, the child can explore fresh interests, develop new skills and forge relationships outside of the hockey community. In a similar vein, you as the hockey parent now have the time to rediscover the hobbies and passions you set aside during the years spent in hockey arenas.

Ultimately, the decision to stop playing hockey is just one chapter in the larger story of your child’s life. While it may mark the end of a particular dream, it also opens the door to new possibilities and opportunities for growth and fulfillment. As a hockey parent, your greatest task is not to shape your child’s future according to your own desires. Your job is to empower them to discover and pursue their own passions, wherever they may lead.

In the end, the true measure of your success as a parent lies not in your child’s achievements on the ice, but in the strength of the bond you share and the unconditional love and support you offer, no matter where life’s journey may take them.

So, while the dreams for your child may fade away, the love and pride of being a hockey parent can live on forever.

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