Now that I have kids, I often wonder, when I am watching a sporting event, what are the parents going through right now? What emotions run through a parent’s mind watching their child play at the highest level?
I was an athlete growing up, not a very good one, but nothing compares to watching your kids play a sport at a high level. I think watching the Olympics is a good representation of where I am going here.
Picture nervous parents who can barely stand to watch their kid compete who had dedicated much of their life to this one moment in time!
I had this moment recently when my daughter finished 0.6 seconds shy of qualifying for the state of Michigan swim meet in the 500 freestyle swimming event for her age group. It is hard to explain how quickly one second can go by, let alone less than one second.
It was, as I described it then, an emotional stinger. There were lots of tears from both of us, and frankly, I think she handled it better than I did. I wanted this for her because I know how hard she worked to get to this point.
As we were driving home, I began to think about those parents of Olympians. The time, energy, and money it took to help support their kids.
As a financial advisor, I could easily shame parents who spend thousands of dollars on their kids’ sports or extracurricular activities, but I don’t.
What I first do is to understand how supporting kids’ activities financially aligns with the parent’s purpose. If spending money to support kids is clearly defined as a family purpose, then there is nothing to judge.
However, the majority of parents these days can’t save for retirement, save for college, go on luxurious vacations, keep up with the latest fashion trends, and spend thousands on sports all at the same time.
When it comes to meeting with new families, I always start with the emotional side of financial planning and try to articulate the family’s purpose. When your purpose is clear, your actions will follow.
As I tell parents, you can do most things in life, but you can’t do it all.
I’m unsure if my daughter will make it to the Olympics, but I could not be more proud of how she handled this challenge. Her fourth-place regional finish is posted below