Sports Parenting

Confessions of a Tennis Mom

The following piece was written by the mom of a teenage tennis-playing daughter and was shared with me, with the mom’s permission, by Rob Polishook. Since Rob is this week’s Podcast Guest, and since Rob references the piece in our podcast conversation, I wanted to post the piece here in its entirety. Here is a little background provided by Rob:

From my experience with Daughter/Mom, this piece is part of a larger context. Let me explain . . .

I had worked with this woman’s daughter for a few months, and through this work, the daughter trusted me as she felt supported and safe. I believe, the mother then began to see changes in the daughters responsibility to tennis (more relaxed and empowered). During this time, the mother and I also had a few conversations. It was only through this dynamic (daughter feeling better about her process, Mom recognizing it’s ok to loosen the reins) that the piece was written by the “tennis mom” and then shared with only me.

Clearly, at the time and now, it struck me as incredibly powerful, and a reflection of the work with the daughter and to some degree the safety which i afforded the Mom to share something this personal. Of course my work is confidential with the kids.

I made an important decision today and it felt great. Where do I begin? I am a tennis mom!

 
There, I said it, it’s out in the open, a true confession. Lots of you know what it means to be a tennis parent but few will want to admit that you are one…
 
For the last 7+ years, I’ve been through it all….wins, losses, zonals, long car rides to tournaments (sectionals/nationals, you name it!), longer car rides home from tournaments after a loss, broken rackets, crying, banging rackets, over 60 pairs of tennis shoes, miles of string, 100s of dampeners, crying to coaches, chasing points, college recruiting, secret clinics, I could go on and on…

But back to the decision I made today. I don’t want to be a tennis mom any more. I don’t like it. I don’t like how it makes me feel and I don’t like what it does to the relationship I have with my daughter…

She doesn’t need me to be a tennis mom any more. She can “fly” by herself and make decisions by herself. I have chosen to empower her, to give her more…to let her be in charge of her tennis life.

To play or not to play. To train or not to train. To commit or not to commit. These are the questions that she has to answer — not me. I’ve given her all the tools she needs — a great coach, a mental coach, fitness coach, the ‘perfect’ racket, and time on the court whenever she wants… Now it’s up to her to decide what she wants to do with all of this stuff.

I’m not quitting my job, I’m simply taking on a different role. I will always support her, love her unconditionally, and help guide her toward healthy decisions that make sense for her but I can’t be vested in her tennis career the way I once was. It’s just not that important. She has to want it — it doesn’t matter what I want…

I feel happily untethered and unburdened — you should try it.
 
Her performance is not a reflection of me — it is a result of the choices she makes both on and off the court.

Signed: Anonymous Tennis Mom

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