“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
I love that quote! It’s just so true. And I think it’s something every sports family – or family with extracurricular activities of any type – needs to keep in mind.
Here are a few ways my family found to experience family togetherness and ThanksLiving through our children’s extracurricular activities.
Show as Much Support for Your Child’s Interests as Possible
The more you can attend training sessions, talk with your child about his or her extracurricular interests, and indicate that your child’s interests are worthwhile the better. It was always heartwarming for my husband and me to hear how much it meant to our children that we did whatever we could to financially and emotionally support their ski racing and then their figure skating.
Attend Events as a Family When Possible
Extracurricular activities can often mean sacrifices by the family, but they can also bring the family closer together. I know of many families who attend events together to cheer on their child who plays football, their child who has a music concert, or their child who has a dance recital.
We were lucky that Will and Chrissy participated in many of their events together. They both ski raced for Ski Club Vail, so it was easy to attend all their ski races as a family. Then they skated pairs together, so it was easy to attend their competitions as a family. We often extended those trips into a mini family vacation afterward.
But even when they were older and Will competed in pairs and Chrissy in ice dance, we traveled together as a family to competitions (except for international competitions which were usually too expensive to have the entire family attend). And Will and Chrissy even attended each other’s skating test sessions to cheer each other on. When Will and his wife, Chea, arrived early for Chrissy and Tom’s wedding in 2009, we all went to watch one of Chrissy and Mark’s ice dance training sessions. That was a wonderful family event and meant a lot to Chrissy.
Of course, for some family members, competition events might be too stressful. I remember hearing on the 2010 Olympics television broadcast that the mother of World- and now-Olympic champion Evan Lysacek couldn’t bear to go to the arena to watch Evan’s competition events. If a family member finds competition events too stressful to attend, just be sure your child understands. If you can watch and enjoy the event on video afterward, there’s still a family experience of togetherness.
Share Your Child’s Extracurricular Events with Your Extended Family
We have had some of the best times with our extended family through figure-skating competitions. My parents often attended skating competitions, and we usually met at U.S. Junior Nationals or, later on, U.S. Nationals for a week of family togetherness.
We’ve also had aunts and uncles and great aunts attend skating competitions with us. Both Will and Chrissy had their world-travelling Aunt Beth attend international competitions with them. And many family members showed their love and support by following Will’s and Chrissy’s careers online. We even had Will and Chrissy’s great, great aunt who was in her 90s show us an article she found online about Will and his pairs partner, Aaryn.
When possible, I tried to have a video put together at the end of each skating season with highlights from Will’s and Chrissy’s skating. It was wonderful that many people in the county and small town where I grew up saw and followed Will’s and Chrissy’s skating careers because of Will and Chrissy’s proud grandparents.
Of course, there will be times that family activities will conflict, but through caring and communication you can still keep your family strong and happy – and have a bit of that “earlier heaven.”