Parents are busy, there is no doubt about it and for parents of a competitive sports child, life is even busier.
This month I’m dipping into the emotional world of ‘sports parenting’ chatting to Gale Issitt, Mum of Teen Brit Car Champion, Callum Hawkins-Row.
If at this point you’re about to switch off as your main thoughts are that extracurricular sports are too expensive, too time consuming and just too exhausting… I’m afraid to say I can’t disagree, you’d be completely realistic. However, what we need to consider is: why so many parents are now getting involved?! And most of whom consider it to be completely worth it!
Consider this… where else can a child pick up a whole host of valuable, priceless life lessons like winning, losing, practice, effort and attitude? These priceless learning opportunities can all be gained during competitive sports but what you might not realise is just how emotional it can actually be too…
In his early teens, Callum Hawkins-Row competes on tracks across the UK. He regularly exceeds speeds of 60 miles per hour and his Mum Gale has chatted about her experience as a sports parent supporting young talent like Callum.
“As a parent you have a tsunami of emotions. With past races he has been so close to the end and then had a mechanical issue with the car. The wave of emotion at that point was just overwhelming. You know your son is in that car, and you know the disappointment and you have to allow yourself to feel, then put your face on and get ready to do some positive talking. Alternatively, if they have had a good result it’s equally powerful, the pride, joy and happiness for them, that empathetic happiness whatever you want to call it is a complete rollercoaster” – Gale Issit 2017.
Having started his career in corporate karting, Callum was fascinated by the sport since the age of two and ever since Gale has been encouraging, financing and helping her son pursue his passions. The drive to help Callum succeed has not been without sacrifice. House moves, school relocation and whole weekends away at race tracks are all part of the life of a competitive sporting parent. Not to mentioned having to be part of both the big highs and the even bigger lows. But Gale and many other parents like her will be the first to tell you that the reward 100% outweighs the losses.
The rewards of this world have not only been for Callum, with Gale finding herself improved by the experience too. Gale told me: “This experience with Callum has definitely been out of my comfort zone, but it has brought rewards. Getting into something new like this gave me the experiences to challenge myself as a person and a parent. It brings transferable skills and qualities that you can potentially use in a working life and career along with other social situations…
There is a quote I like about life it says: ‘In life you have three choices, you can either give up, give in or give it your all’.
I’d say if you want to have any chance of succeeding within this, you have to say to yourself: whatever happens I am going to give it my all. To do that you need personal resilience and a level of tenacity because there will be will be some enormously rewarding highs but there are also going to be a lot of lows and you will feel that with them (your child), for them and yourself. So, you need to be resilient.”
And Gale’s thought on ‘sports parents’ in general: “I don’t think there is a typical sports parent. I smile when I think of stereotyping. People like Judy Murray may have been labelled a typical ‘sports mum’ and then they might look at me, especially when I hobble around with a bad knee, introverted, potentially over weight, shy and having to work really hard at all that stuff. I don’t think they would see me as a ‘sports mum’! But to me all typical ‘sports mums’ have one thing in common and that is their ferocious, absolutely unwavering commitment to do whatever it takes, legally, to see their child succeed. That’s a typical ‘sports mum’ and there is a whole arm of typical ‘sports parents’ out there.”