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Which game should you attend?

April 28, 2011
By Jon Buzby

Any parent with more than one child has faced the dilemma of having to choose one activity over another. But how do you do it?

I listened to a grandmother talk about how she was going to both of her grandsons' games in one night, at two different fields, and it got me thinking that in a few years I'll be faced with a similar dilemma with my two younger boys. My oldest son, now 18, was an only child when he played youth sports and so although I occasionally missed a game, it was never because I was somewhere else watching a sibling play.

This grandmother's plan was to watch the first half of one game and then travel to the next. The positive thing about this is each grandson will see her in the bleachers. But the fact is she might not get to see both play.

By the time she arrives to the second game it could already be over or her grandson might have already played his time and be on the bench. So her noble attempt to see both kids play could be a failure despite her best intentions.

It's important for kids to realize that as wonderful as youth sports games are, occasionally parents have to miss them. Regardless of the reason, the most important thing is to make sure the child knows that although the game will be missed, the parent wishes he/she could be there and can't wait to hear about it afterwards.

One hint I always give parents is to be sure not to gender stereotype when attending, or missing, your kids' events. Mom should attend a football game over a cheerleading practice and Dad should do the opposite. Not every time, but at least a few times a season when conflicts occur. And remember, to a child, his rec-league soccer game is just as important as his older brother's varsity one.

As parents we don't want to miss a second of our kids' lives, but inevitably we do. Youth sports games will be missed, and teaching kids this at a young age is just as important as showing them how to swing a bat.

Jon Buzby's columns appear in newspapers and magazines around the country as well as numerous Web sites. E-mail your comments to and follow him at



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