Ep 115 Transcript - Dr. Chelsea Pierotti

Ep 115 Transcript

[Motivational Intro Music]

Chelsea: Do you have dance parents at your studio or school that drive you completely crazy? I know dance parents can be super challenging, and I’ve heard coaches say things like, “I love everything about teaching dance except the parents.” So let’s talk about dance parents!

I’m Dr. Chelsea. Today, I brought on a special guest to help me talk about sport parents. Her name is Dr. Megan Babkes-Stellino, and she’s actually my academic mentor. That means she was my advisor when I was getting my PhD, and she was the one who encouraged me to research with dancers, which was still relatively new at the time, and so much of my love and knowledge for sport psychology came from Megan. So I’m really excited to share her with you. This is a big full-circle moment for me. But it’s not just about me. I brought her on because she is an expert in sport parents.

She researches this. She has this incredible way of helping us understand where parents are coming from, but also give the coaches and the teachers some practical advice on how to develop positive relationships where those dance parents respect you as the coach but can stay firmly in their lane as the parent. Dr. Megan and I talk about how you can change your parent handbooks for the better, how parents often believe that winning and fun are the same thing, and they also believe that effort can only be seen through trophies and public recognition. Of course, we know better.

As you’ll hear, we had so much to share that this will actually be part one, and we’ll come back with part two soon. So, as you're listening, if you have questions or stories to share, please send me an email or a voice note at www.chelseapierotti.com/message. I would love to hear from all of you about how dance parents are challenging you so that Dr. Megan and I can help. But before we get there, here’s part one, all about how you can cultivate a positive relationship with your dance parents.


[Motivational Intro Music]

Welcome to the Passion for Dance podcast. I’m Dr. Chelsea, a former professional dancer and dance team coach turned sport psychologist. This podcast focuses on four main pillars: motivation, resilience, mindset, and community. Each week, you’ll learn actionable strategies, mindsets, and tips to teach your dancers more than good technique. This is a podcast where we can all make a lasting impact and share our passion for dance. Let’s do this!

[Motivational Intro Music]


Chelsea: Hi, Dr. Megan! Thank you so much for joining me today. I’m happy to have you!

Megan: I’m happy to be here. Thanks for the opportunity!

Chelsea: Of course! As I said, I’m so excited to have someone from my academic life kind of joining me in the dance world. It’s exciting to bring that piece to it. So will you tell my audience a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Megan: Absolutely! Above and beyond being privileged to be your former PhD advisor [Laughs] I think the best way to encapsulate who I am is I have this silly but very salient moniker of Professor Sport Mom, and I sort of use it as the hashtag of all the things that converge together to probably have brought me here to speak to you.

So, let’s see. I just finished my 22nd year on faculty as a professor at The University of Northern Colorado. My research is focused on social influences like parents, coaches, officials, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teammates, peers, and motivation in young athletes and performers. I am a former division one collegiate gymnast, and I am a mom to two kids. They're currently 16 and 13 years old, respectively avid, competitive in all the spaces, athletes, academics, all-around great kids so far.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: Knock on wood.

Chelsea: Absolutely. No, they're wonderful! I like that. The Professor Sport Mom. That’s very true! You're right. It captures all the really big important things.

So I asked you to come talk to me because I know a lot of the coaches who are listening, the teachers in studios are struggling to have really successful relationships with their dancers’ parents. There seems to be this contention a lot. Sometimes they get along great. Sometimes the parents are wonderful, but they can be challenging and trying to help the coaches and the teachers figure out how can we have a better relationship with parents or, “How do I deal with the parents,” or, “Do I have to even deal with the parents? Can I just ignore it?” So I figure this is a great opportunity to have you and I kind of talk about sport parents.

When I shared with my community that I was gonna have you here, I was like, “And she’s an expert in sport parenting, and that’s a thing!” There is this whole body of research and applied work on sport parenting that just doesn't get communicated. So I love what you're doing in being able to really take the research into the real world. Let’s talk real parents, real athletes. How do we kind of help this relationship?

So, in order to kind of talk about this, I looked up some quotes or myths, all the memes out there about sport parents. There are a lot of people kind of making fun of sport parents or dealing with it. And so, we could kind of talk through those and see what is real and what’s not or the message that’s being put out there.

First Myth: Parent Handbook – 5:42

So the first one that I hear sport coaches tell me all the time is these coaches will say, “I need a 15-page parent handbook, and it gets longer every year. Every year I just have to keep adding to it, and there’s so much work that needs to be put into this handbook because of parents.” To me, that feels like okay, we’re just gonna keep adding rules. Every time I have an issue, I’m gonna keep adding more and more rules, keep adding more and more boundaries. But thoughts on the gigantic handbooks and if we need to just keep adding rules and boundaries to parents?

Megan: Yeah, yeah. Oh, there’s so much there. The need to create boundaries and a common understanding and expectations and, really, it boils down to roles and understanding what is the role of the coach, what is the role of the parent. Oftentimes those are super blurred in both places. I recently just heard this, and it was jaw-dropping, that parents coaching from the sidelines or the stands or the audience is leaning toward being considered informal coaching, which I was like, “No, no, no! Please, let’s not define it as such!” [Laughs]

Chelsea: Yeah. No, no, no.

Megan: Yeah, I think it’s a really, really blurry space. So I’ll back up a little bit. I think one of the most important considerations when we start trying to inform and educate and create these considerations about how coaches can relate to parents and maybe create some inclusivity simultaneous with boundaries, is establishing some kind of foundation and premise, and one of the most provocative foundations in my opinion is that we don't get the opportunity to coach, to lead, to study, to understand anything, really, about youth sports and dance and extracurricular activities among children and adolescents if parents don't provide that opportunity for their kids.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: So I want that loud and clear. I feel like I need it on a shirt, right, of all things. But that’s my reminder of, at the end of the day, good, bad, or indifferent in terms of parents and what they're doing and how some of them are amazing and some of them are awful and everything in between is that we don't get the opportunity to even talk about this. Why would it matter if parents weren't willing to provide that opportunity for their children to engage in these contexts where we’re ultimately having a struggle with the parents themselves.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: Yeah, so I didn’t exactly answer your question there, but I wanted to get that out first.

Chelsea: No, I think that’s important. You're right because we get caught up as coaches and as teachers as, “I need to do my job, and I’m here to be the best coach I can be and make them the best athlete they can be, and the parent’s in the way.” But ultimately, the parent is the only reason this is happening in the first place. The parent was able to provide this. I think it’s a good, important piece to it.

Megan: Yeah.

Chelsea: But then maybe that leads to some of the parents thinking they have more of a role than they should, which is what you were saying about the sideline coaching or the informal coaching. That’s like no, no, no. There has to be a boundary of, “I’m grateful for your participation, but also stay over there.”

Megan: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, I think that having that front and center probably, possibly, hypothetically could actually reduce the length and the severity of these handbooks.

Chelsea: Right.

Megan: Right? It would really dissipate, and my go to in this is, yes, I’m a researcher and a professor. I’m also a mom. So I always put myself in that role when I’m talking about this almost automatically. I’m like, phew, do I need to reel that back in. But I literally would soften everything about being a mama bear. That’s another meme, right? If I were to first have acknowledgement from coaches and teachers and the other adults that are in the space where my kids are pursuing these extracurricular activities, if they approach me with, “Hey, thanks for letting me impact your child. I wouldn't get to do this thing I love (coach, teach, lead, organize, whatever it happens to be) without you.” It just softens the whole experience.

So I think that, front and center, is really profound. The other really big part of that is the ever-growing length and I say severity because it starts to get cold and rigid and it feels less like boundaries and more like mandates.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: Which is really off putting. In terms of coaches being able to relate to parents is essentially just that: relate to them. If they're a parent also, put that hat on. If they're not a parent, show that vulnerability and say, “I value my coaching, my teaching, my role. I don't know what it’s like to be a parent. But I do know that I need these boundaries.” [Laughs]

Chelsea: Yeah. No, I think that’s such an important piece to start with that because you're right. I think the handbooks do get cold and rigid and I think severe is the right word, and as a coach I get it. They're getting longer because we’ve had problems, because we’ve had the over-reaching parents or we’ve had the fights or we’ve had the issues, so we feel like we have to put up that harsher tone to it. But I think you're right. As a parent, if you receive this gigantic document that basically just says, “Here’s all the things you parents can't do,” then you walk away with, “Well, then what?” That doesn't feel good. It feels like an icky way to start it.

A handbook, just as an example, is usually just one of the first things you're gonna communicate to your parents. And so, being able to start, as you said, with this sense of appreciation for what a parent’s role is and where they can be helpful and positive and what you need from them in a good way as how they can support their athlete, that’s a much better way to start rather than just, “Here are all the don'ts and shoulds and stay away.”

Megan: Yes, exactly. Yeah, my few other thoughts on this are just really kind of awesome buzzwords or buzz actions that exist out there right now.

Chelsea: Mm-hmm!

Megan: I think the handbook could be shorter, and it could actually be more productive for everybody involved. If it included why, right?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: So, one that’s a classic is the 24-hour rule, right?

Chelsea: Sure. Yep.

Megan: Don't approach the coach. Don't let your kid approach the coach. Don't approach the teacher. Don't approach until 24 hours, right? There is something magical about 24 hours that those of us who have been in positions of feeling attacked five minutes after something has happened or vice versa, wanting to just, you know, I already said the mama bear kind of thing comes into play. So there are too many assumptions about the implicit reasons for these handbooks and all that they include. I think that misses a lot of what would soften and then improve the relationship between coaches and parents is more why.

So the 24-hour rule, if we’re gonna go with that one as an example, well, why? Because emotions dissipate, and that’s important. It doesn't mean emotions aren't valuable, but we all know in the heat of the moment, emotions are intense and if we can give it time, things don't necessarily go away. They just make more sense. We don't need to go into [Laughs] a big cognitive dissertation here, but the reality is that our emotions cloud our cognitions, and so, when our emotions are high it clouds what makes sense.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: So giving it time. Coaches don't need to go into that, but the why. So why would it be important for this rule? Why is it important for that rule? So I think the why is important.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: I think how. So very clear components within these roles, these handbooks is how. How, as a parent, can I contribute? How, as a parent, can I connect? How, as a parent, is it appropriate for me to be involved?

The how piece of it is action, and I think that a lot of parents, by way of that original opportunity that they're providing, they want to stay engaged.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: And if coaches are like, “Hey!”

Chelsea: Yeah, “Stand back!” [Laughs]

Megan: Yeah! Then if parents are kind of motivated people to provide these opportunities for their children, then it doesn't just end there.

Chelsea: Mm-hmm.

Megan: Who of us are complacent enough to just sit there and not continue why-ing and how-ing — [Laughs]

Chelsea: [Laughs] Sure.

Megan: — as the opportunity goes on.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: And then my last one with the handbook, and its origins really come from the true Professor Sport Mom when I consider how coaches can better relate to parents is accountability. I think in that original handbook, in the original boundaries, they can be shorter and sweeter if they actually provide a basis for accountability and not overshoot.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: In other words, I would love a four-page handbook for the season, for whatever the occasion is, and then I’d love to see it be followed through.

Chelsea: Right.

Megan: In all my years, and I’ve got two kids and have a lot of friends who have been in these spaces, and as parents, I recognize that it’s hard on coaches to follow through, but what it does is it undermines the whole premise of these handbooks because it starts a new season. You start a new class. You start a new endeavor with your child, and you're like, “Okay, how many of these 8,000 parameters and boundaries are ultimately going to be upheld?”

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: And then the last piece of that is what that does is it cuts at the core of the respect that coaches want to garner more than anything.

Chelsea: Mm-hmm. Oh, absolutely. The whole idea is to have you seen as someone to respect, especially young coaches. It’s probably true in other sports, but in dance, a lot of coaches are really young, and you're trying to gain that respect. That’s huge.

Okay, I want to summarize that in one little piece because there were so many good things in there about redoing a handbook or just thinking about it differently. So being able to start with the acknowledgement piece and more of the, “I want to create this allyship,” and I know you and I have used that word in other contexts, but saying the parents are your allies, and if you present the handbook in that way, “Let’s work together to help your dancer have the best experience that he or she can have,” in this context.

So, starting with the acknowledgement, and then why are there rules. Not just all the rules, adding the why. And then how parents can connect, how they can contribute, how they can — like you said, the action. Let them do something if they want to do something. Most of them do, so let’s direct them in the right path. And then the accountability piece, I think you're right, is huge because as a coach, if you want to hold the dancers accountable for the rules and you want to hold the parents accountable, then you have to do your part as well. You’ve laid these out, and you have to make sure that that’s followed through and followed through equally. I think that’s where some, especially young, coaches get in trouble is it’s like, well, you start to not apply handbook rules the same to everyone, which, as you said, undermines all the trust and everything about it.

So okay, love it. Well said. Thank you. That was awesome.

Megan: Yeah.

Second Myth: How Parents Talk About Winning and Losing – 19:20

Chelsea: Okay, another meme that I found is, “‘It doesn't matter who wins or loses, as long as the kids have fun,’ said no real sport mom ever.” [Laughs] That most parents are like, “Oh, I just want my dancer to go have fun! I want him to enjoy his time and learn dance,” but it’s like, okay, they say that, but do they really? How parents talk about winning and losing — some parents will overtly say, “We better win this state championship,” or, “My child better make that team or better have that role in the ballet.” Some are overt about it. But many of them will say, “As long as they're having fun, it’s great,” but they don't really feel that way or their actions don't seem like they really feel that way.

So I wanted to talk with you about how parents talk about winning and losing or how should a parent talk about winning and losing with their athlete, which is then maybe we can take that to say a coach could communicate this to a parent. Because that language is powerful.

Megan: Yeah, it’s really powerful. I think I have to lean on some research right away in that I think parents have picked up the proverbial torch on the just have fun idea, and the adult perspective on fun being equal if not synonymous with winning, which we know is not true for youth. And arguably coaches, especially educated, informed coaches, know that fun and winning are not synonymous also. So what’s happened is then parents are out here running along with the, “Have fun! Just have fun,” not really knowing what that is, understanding that winning or success through performance is the most visible, socially-evaluated thing that they can bear witness to in terms of their child’s experience.

And so, when they're searching for something acceptable to say, the infill that is so predominant is, “I just want my child to have fun! I just want them to be happy,” but hence the meme. So Professor Sport Mom thinks memes are really the satire of our society, especially in these extracurricular, performance-oriented contexts. And so, they're really reflective of the things that are wrong. and have gone awry, right?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: And so, I think that if parents understood more of what their children wanted, and that just takes a whole separate process, which it’s interesting because I think to dismantle this and kind of unravel it, maybe is the better way to say it. To unravel this would be a great place for coaches to connect with parents. It’s like, “Hey, as adults, we don't really know what kids want because we’re not kids anymore, and we have this adult perspective, so what is fun? What does make them happy? What else matters outside of the zero-sum result that we have just hooked our wagons to in society where there’s one winner, right? Only one team can win. Only one individual can perform the best, get the highest score.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: Yeah, what do you think of that?

Chelsea: No, I agree. I like what you said, that it’s an opportunity to connect the coaches and parents and have a conversation about what is fun and what is success. I talk a lot on this podcast, people who have listened for a while, about what is success and that it’s not just the top score, the top athlete, making the team, getting the job. It’s self-defined, and being able to ask the athlete, “Okay, well, what is successful and what is fun,” and having an opportunity, as you said, to have that conversion with parents because I’ve definitely had parents come at me about being upset that their child was second or third or whatever, and then we rant for a while, and I feel very attacked, and it’s this ugly conversation, and then we get to it and eventually the parent is like, “Well, actually, no, my daughter’s fine. Their team is thrilled.” And I’m just like, “Wait a minute. Why are you so mad if your child was really proud of that result?” There’s that missed opportunity of why does the parent feel this need to fight for, “It should have been more or it’s not worth it if we didn't win,” and that that explicit conversation could happen and align with what your child actually wants. What a novel idea. I like that.

Megan: Yeah, mind blowing, right? And, you know, the other piece I want to pepper in here is that parents really forget and are not mindful of what is in and what is not in their child’s control.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: And a lot of winning, success is outside of their control. There are a lot of other variables. And so, it’s why that meme is so paradoxical, right? “It doesn't matter who wins or loses as long as kids have fun,” it’s our back fell and the collective struggle with the reality that a lot of times the win, the success is happenstance, and on any other given day with other judges, with other teammates, different opponents, the ranking and the superiority or lack thereof, would end up very different. 

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: And so, I think the other piece here is connection for coaches with parents, is to help them identify within the dance culture, within the context of dance, what is in their child’s or the dancer’s control and what isn't? 

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: To help really shine a light on where successes can come from, and also the relative nature of failure and how that gives way to growth and development.

Chelsea: Yes, again, people who’ve followed me for a long time, my main phrase is control the controllables, and as you're talking I’m like I got that from you! [Laughs] That probably came from you, and you're right though that I don't always think about it, as a parent identifying for themselves what is true for their child. I talk to athletes mostly or talk to coaches. “What’s in your control as a coach?” Also important, but in this context, for a parent to step back and say, “What is in my child’s control? Therefore, I need to celebrate the successes that are in their control and not be so hard on them or coaches for things that are not in their control.” But that’s an opportunity for a great conversation. Yeah, I like that.

Megan: Yeah, it’s a really great conversation because as adults I think one of our weaknesses in terms of our impact and influence in youth extracurricular activity pursuits is this assumption that youth manipulate their effort, right? So effort is, by definition, in individual control. But it’s flawed when we as adults who have sort of mastered that negotiation of, “I’m gonna hold back some effort, protect myself in case,” right, or, “I know how to go all out because I feel confident.” It’s a pretty big hot mess right now, in my opinion, within youth extracurricular activity pursuits because we’re imposing that adult model onto children when that’s not natural. So we’re like, “Try harder! Give it your all!” and I’m seeing more and more things where athletes are given voice and they're saying, “I always give it my all. Why would I not?” [Laughs]

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: And so, that’s really fascinating to consider in terms of win, loss, success, and circling all the way back to the idea of fun, it is, by nature, fun to put it all out there, which developmentally is present through the majority of youth.

Chelsea: Yeah, oh, that’s very true, and I think coaches, if we see dancers that we feel like they're not working hard enough or parents will think that their child is not “working hard enough,” but you're right, to the child they're like, “Maybe I didn't produce the same high-quality skill just in this moment, but that doesn't mean I didn't try.” But if the message is just keep trying, just keep trying, you're like, “But I am.” That’s a mixed message to the athletes for sure.

Megan: Yeah. Yeah.

Third Myth: Sport Mom Identity – 28:51

Chelsea: Awesome. Okay, I want to get to one other one because I think this is really gonna help coaches connect with parents again as well. So, talking about identity, which again is a topic I share a lot here, but in this case talking about parents and how many parents tie their identity to their child’s athletic success, and I think that’s the root of where conflict happens for parents and kind of like that parent I was just saying who was so upset, it’s like if this child’s not upset, then why are you so upset? You're upset because it’s your identity. What makes you a good parent is when your child wins, and having that conflated identity sense.

So I guess I’ll just ask if you see that identity connection in research. How do we help talk to parents about lessening that, loosening that identity tie or I don't know what the best approach is to that.

Megan: Yeah, so it’s real. [Laughs]

Chelsea: [Laughs]

Megan: It’s not imagined. A sport parent or a dance parent identity is as real as an identity that anyone holds in any activity that they engage in. The research on this is just — I love it. It’s one of my favorite areas probably because I’m always trying to ward it off, right?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: Like, “No, no, no, I’ve got this!” And so, a lot of what we know about individual identity holds true here. The interesting part comes from where it’s confounded in by proxy, right?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: So it’s by proxy to one’s child and then further conflated by this concept of worth. Parental, moral worth, by definition, comes from The Work by Jay Coakley. Because achievement in activities like dance or sport are so visible, it gives way to this concept of goodness and rightness for the parent when they are providing opportunity in which their child is succeeding, and that success is so valued in our society. And so, it’s this — I mean we see it everywhere now. I would imagine many who are listening, on their Facebook feeds or their Instagram feeds on social media, they have this chest pounding, right? So it feels good. Is it a humble brag? Is it a straight up brag? Whatever you want to call it, the reality is that it is a by-proxy sense of worth. “I am doing good by putting my child in a space where they are then succeeding, and their success then reflects back on me as a parent doing good by them.”

Chelsea: Yeah, absolutely!

Megan: So yeah, if you can keep up with all of that.

Chelsea: Yeah, no, you're right, and I think the social media then just confounds it even more and makes it so much worse because there’s the parent — we don't see the  parent always post if they didn't win or if it wasn't the best, they won't talk about it. I will say, coaches, we tend to do this too where we have this huge, giant social media hurrah when they do well, and then if they didn't place as well, you're just like, “Ah, I’m proud of my team,” instead of really digging in, like we said, about all the different ways of success.

But for parents, sticking with that, it’s the worth. You're right. There is that sense that you were a better parent if your child is publicly successful. So it’s I guess, as a coach then, if that’s real — as we said, sport parent identity is real. It’s there. So first, just knowing that it’s real and knowing that that’s an important piece is helpful, but then is there a way to help parents understand their role a little bit better? I don't know if this is the right time. You have talked before about the three M’s of sport parenting, if that’s a way to kind of guide parents on how to understand their sport identity but yet not let it hurt their athlete.

Megan: Yeah, I think before that, it might be important — so the salience of the parent identity is also predicted by the extent to which they are narrowed in on the magnitude of that particular role in their life. So arguably, any parent who is identifying very strongly as a dance parent, they have other roles that they're not as salient, and some of the research is pointing to that being a result of investments, of resources. 

Chelsea: Mm-hmm. Sure.

Megan: So time, energy, money, the relationships that are formed. So if a dance mom makes really good friends with other dance moms but not as good of friends with other moms who aren't dance moms, then that’s just gonna reinforce the dance mom identity.

Chelsea: Absolutely.

Megan: And so, for coaches to acknowledge it’s another one of those connecting points where being able to maybe detect the intensity of the parent identity as being uni-dimensional in connection with their child, seeing that as a red flag could be another place of connection to — yeah, I kind of lost my train of thought there.

Chelsea: No, that’s okay. I was just thinking that, yeah, it’s an awareness for the coach but a connection with the parent that maybe it is just like earlier where you were saying acknowledging it and understanding that that’s real, and I think as a coach, you're right. Those are the parents that usually are polarizing. So the stronger their identity as a sport parent, dance mom, dance dad, the stronger their identity, if it’s healthy, it’s wonderful. They're the ones who will host events for you and run errands and do all these great things, but if it’s not the ones where there’s such a strong identity is theirs with the ones who hurt the child and have the hardest relationship with the coach. So it makes sense. You're right.

The investments are a big part of that because, like so many sports, dance is real expensive, and it usually starts really young, and so, if we’re talking about high school athletes now, as a parent, you're like, “I have been paying for dance for how many years now? What am I getting out of this,” or, “Why aren't we at this level,” or, “This is all I know. I’m a dance mom. This is my whole world,” and I’ve definitely seen the graduating seniors, the moms are struggling almost more than the dancers because they're like, “I don't know what to do with my life when my child is not dancing anymore,” and that’s, like you said, a red flag that your sport mom identity is coming at the cost of other identities, right? You're losing other parts of you.

Megan: Yeah, all of that is so spot on, right? So it’s the forsaking of other aspects of themselves, and it’s really treating — so magnified what you just said. It’s so vivid that the length of the career as a sport parent or a dance dad or a dance mom is the culture of these extracurricular activities force parents to basically do the marathon that it is as a sprint.

Chelsea: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Megan: And there’s a constant scramble and clamoring for, “Is it ever enough? Am I doing enough for my kid?” That initial opportunity is never enough.

Chelsea: Right.

Megan: I’m sure that’s taxing, then, for coaches because that’s an identified career, and it holds a different relative salience that’s not necessarily as complicated or complicated in different ways.

The other thing I was gonna say in terms of what coaches can do to help parents see their identity not being tied specifically to their child’s outcomes or their talent is to provide parents more breadth and depth in terms of how they can see their child. So we’re experts in this, right? We know — and who knew that it was really like a secret bag of tricks — to look for other victories —

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: — besides the score, the outcome, the win. So we can see talent being overcome. We can see where there’s perseverance. We can see where there’s a small tweak to a particular skill that gives way to it looking differently or being able to perform something that seemed out of reach. The majority of parents out there have no idea. They actually have no idea. [Laughs]

Chelsea: Right.

Megan: And so, they don't know to look for anything else, and then they tie their identity to what is visible on behalf of their child’s performance.

Chelsea: Right. Yeah, no, I think that’s really important because there’s a coach’s assumption that a parent would know to look elsewhere, but we don't. That’s all we share. That’s all we post. That’s all we talk about, and so, maybe it’s an opportunity in this early kind of preseason handbook/parent meeting kind of conversation to talk about my coaching philosophy and, “How I approach success is to look for these things like perseverance and who’s been trying to get this skill for months, and they keep fighting for it, and the ones who are adapting,” just explaining all of that and saying, “That’s success to me as a coach. That’s what I'm celebrating, and as a parent, if you can be an ally in this with me, and if you hear that your child is working really hard on a skill that maybe they're not able to compete it yet but they’re still working on it, celebrate that with your child. Don't get mad that they're not competing it yet.” There’s that like, “Well, why haven't you done it? Why can't you be in that routine? Why can't you compete that skill?” If the child is actually really working on it, that’s a huge area of celebration, but parents just want to see it done and successful. But a place for coaches to bring parents in on that information and share, “This is how I want my program to feel and to run. Can you kind of come alongside me in that with your kid?” Yeah.

Megan: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, things like how they hold their bodies, how they show up, how they work with their teammates or their peers. How do they communicate? So there are lots of little victories that coaches can help parents learn to celebrate that go above and beyond and ultimately they do contribute to the wins and the sort of public social media, brag-worthy, traditional things that parents have picked up the torch to carry.

Chelsea: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, well, we have already shared so many great things, and I wanted to get into the three M’s of sport parenting, as I said before, which is the three kind of roles that parents can play in the sport relationship, but I feel like it’s its own thing. So maybe we hold that for a part two, and if you are listening, and this has brought up questions or you want to share stories of sport parents or how you might handle different situations, we would love to hear from you!

Now we have to do part two because we have so much more to share. So if you want to submit a question or share stories or ask questions about sport parenting, you can always leave a voice note for the podcast. That’s at www.chelseapierotti.com/message, and it’s in the show notes.

So, Dr. Megan, you’ll come back and do part two with me for the three M’s and kind of share more about sport parents?

Megan: Absolutely! Looking forward to it already.

Chelsea: Good! Yes! I think they're so good, everybody, so we’ll come back. But let’s wrap this one up. Any last thoughts on how coaches can try to use what we’ve talked about today to have a better relationship with their dance parents?

Megan: Yeah, I think the biggest takeaways are that parents can be allies. The opportunity, again, to work with youth comes by way of parents providing that opportunity, and they don't know what they don't know. And so, a great way to connect with parents, and certainly the motivation would be there, is to teach them as an extension to what you teach your dancers and what you teach your athletes. Assuming that parents know how to occupy their role as sport parents or dance parents is somewhat flawed. And so, yes, that puts more on the coach, the teacher, the leader, but in the end, that could be less of a burden and more of a blessing because then the impact is greater. It’s to the whole family, and then positive relationships are built, and the breadth of the outcomes is that much greater.

Chelsea: Yes, agreed! Thank you so much. And before we leave, I would love for you to share if people are listening and they need more on relationships and understanding sport parents, you have Mindful Sport Parenting. Will you share a little bit about where people can find you and your work?

Megan: Yes! You can find Mindful Sport Parenting, which is a virtual community of practice intended to create connection, access to evidence-based resources, and provoke discussion among parents in the extracurricular activity achievements and performance space. Mindful Sport Parenting can be found at www.mindfulsportparenting.com. We’re on Instagram @mindfulsportparenting and on Facebook @mindfulsportparenting as well. 

Chelsea: That’s wonderful! To clarify for my listeners, this is something that they would share with a parent, right? The community is for the parents.

Megan: Yes, so it’s a community, a practice for sport parents.

Chelsea: But yeah, there are so many great resources there for parents who might, like you said, if their dance mom identity is real strong and they want to be involved in a positive way, this is a really good thing to send their direction to help them build that more positive relationship.

Megan: Yes!

Chelsea: Wonderful!

Megan: Yeah.

Chelsea: Well, thank you so much for being here and sharing all your expertise. I appreciate it so much. It’s fun for me, too, personally, to kind of come full circle. But we’ll be back for part two as well. Thank you so much!

Megan: You're welcome! Looking forward to part two!

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