Absolutely every year around this time, I am burdened by the horror stories of athlete students who are facing the realities of the college admission process, specifically as it pertains to athletic scholarships and recruitment.  Many student athletes and parents invest years of time and resources only to realize it does not yield their expected outcome at the end.  I have received many emails and questions surrounding the debate over academics and athletics, and the parental “push” of one over the other. This is not a matter of right or wrong but an opportunity to reiterate the importance of our decisions regarding our children’s futures.

As a mother and educator, I believe sports as well as other extracurricular options, are extremely important and beneficial in developing well-rounded children and teenagers.  In addition, if one of these avenues can serve as an open door to college scholarships, it’s indeed an added benefit.  However, as parents, we must be careful our passion and level of “intent” regarding these activities do not overshadow the life-long value of pursuing academic excellence.

Parenting is one of the most difficult responsibilities on earth, and steering your child in a specific direction is also an extremely hard task.  I know many of us battle with the idea of steering or choosing paths for our children, but in reality, if they were completely capable of making these decisions independently, there would be no need for our guidance and direction. I think this careful decision must accompany four vital practices:

(1)    Pray for God’s Will in the life of your child,

(2)    Understand your specific goals and desires for your child,

(3)    Recognize your child’s gifts, abilities, and talents, and

(4)    Know the level of competition and minimum requirements for becoming a successful and independent adult in today’s global society.

In our home, my husband and I teach our children to view their current activities as “tickets” to  higher education and a successful, independent life.  They understand that their extracurricular activities (music, sports, etc.) are like lottery or raffle tickets, giving them a CHANCE at winning a seat, but only if their number is called.  Now, on the other hand, academic excellence is viewed as a purchased ticket to a RESERVED SEAT… one lableled with their name, not dependent on chance or a called number.

The reality is every ticket increases their CHANCES of winning, and nothing is wrong with having plenty of them as long as one is a ticket for a RESERVED SEAT.  So, before you choose to funnel all your time, energy, and money into something for your child, consider the RESERVED SEAT.

Peace and Blessings,

Mama Tameka