Editorial: Release your child

Athletics teaches responsibility, leadership, discipline

We have a goal for parents as pads start popping, balls are kicked and spiked, and legs churn this week, when high school athletes start their preseason drills: release your child.

If you do, it will be one of the biggest gifts you could ever give your son or daughter.

To be sure, there will be plenty of “letting go” in the coming weeks, as parents prepare to send their children off to school. The parting hugs or the lingering release of fingertips between parent and child are commonplace this time of year. The letting go of a high school athlete is a similar important step in a child’s road to independence. Releasing ones child to the game is great therapy for parents, as well.

There are plenty of parents, in this and other communities, who the older they get, the better they were. Not surprisingly, most ex-jocks who talk about how good they were, probably are trying to build up themselves for one simple reason: They weren’t that good. Those parents often try to live their athletic dreams through their children.

Part of the preseason meetings at Hood River Valley High School and Horizon Christian School last week dealt with ways to let a child go. Bruce Brown, a nationally known motivational speaker at high school coaching seminars, offers four ways to let your young athlete go — and help them build confidence at the same time: Don’t do things for your kids that they can do for themselves; encourage healthy risk taking; don’t protect them from failure; and then, release your athlete to the care of the coach.

Brown says there are some red flags for parents who have not released their kids to the game: They continue to live personal athletic dreams through their child; they take credit when their child has done well; they try to solve all the child’s athletic-related problems; they try to continue to coach when the child probably knows more about the game than they do; they take everything too seriously; the athlete avoids parents after the game or is embarrassed about a parent’s involvement; or the athlete is focused on parents for approval or out of fear, and not focused on the game.

There are plenty of things high school athletics will teach your child — among them responsibility, leadership and discipline. Athletes can learn these and more if parents stay out of the way.

So parents, once you get to know your child’s coach, and once trust is established, then release your child. This is their time, not yours. Let your child get what they want out of the game and not what you want them to get. Be proud, of course, but let your kids chart their own athletic path.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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