Moms Who Kick
"Playing the same sport your child does, women agree, helps you better understand your kid’s challenges. “ “These women believe they are showing their kids a positive role model and sending the message that you’re never too old to do new things and take risks. Role reversal also lets kids teach their parents something for a change. “
Russo, Francine. (2006). Moms Who Kick. Time 167(20), W6.
After years of watching her son Kale, 11, scramble for the soccer ball, Paige Brodie had an epiphany one day. “We spend so much time sitting on our butts watching these games,” she thought, “we should play ourselves.” With that, the Sherborn, Mass., mother of three organized a moms’ team and became a new kind of soccer mom—one who plays in her own league.
Brodie, 43, and her teammates are part of a burgeoning trend of moms taking up their children’s sports. At the John Smith Sports Center, where Brodie plays, the number of mothers’ teams has shot up since 2000 from four to 14, including eight that cater to soccer novices. And it isn’t just soccer: the International Society of Skateboarding Moms, for example, founded in 2004 by Barb Odanaka, author of Skateboard Mom, boasts 350 members. From kayaking to hockey to wall climbing, mothers are imitating their kids.
For these women, seeing their children soar up a skateboard ramp or power-stroke a scull awakens a thirst to experience the thrills firsthand. That is especially true for moms who grew up during pre—Title IX days, when organized sports for girls were rare. Participating also gives them a window into their kids’ experience, a shared language and a new way to bond.
Miriam Naples of Plain City, Ohio, warmed a bench for months while her 6- and 11-year-old sons took skateboarding lessons. “I was always looking out of the corner of my eye wishing I were on board,” says Naples, 47. She kept wondering whether her sons would be embarrassed. So she asked them. The response: “How cool!”
Playing the same sport your child does, the women agree, helps you better understand your kid’s challenges. “I used to stand on the sidelines and yell, ‘Run, run, run!’” says Lisa Alpert, 43, who plays on the Sherborn soccer team. “Now I know,” she admits sheepishly, “how hard it is to keep running.”
These women believe they are showing their kids a positive role model and sending the message that you’re never too old to do new things and take risks. Role reversal also lets kids teach their parents something for a change. After watching their daughters scull on the Charles River, Barbara Herrmann, 47, an engineering manager from Arlington, Mass., and her husband left the gym for a slot on the Community Rowing Team. “My daughters were the voice of experience and enjoyed giving me advice,” she says.
Sharing turf can be tricky, psychologists say. Becoming overinvolved in our children’s lives can interfere with their development as separate people, says Marion Lindblad-Goldberg, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. She suggests that moms ask themselves, “Am I feeling competitive with my child? Am I trying to micromanage his performance? Can I separate my needs and anxieties about this activity from hers?” Early adolescence, notes psychologist Madeline Levine, author of the forthcoming book The Price of Privilege, is when kids are most intent on developing identities separate from those of their parents. Becoming over involved in your children’s activities is not good for their development or your relationship with them.
| PUBLIC ACCESS