Letting Go of My Dream and Letting My Kids Chase Their Own

I helped 30 young aspiring baseball players become MLB All-Stars, but I couldn’t help my own kids play through high school.

After working with thousands of families and helping over 330 kids reach the majors, I was confident at least one of our three boys would achieve the same thing.

So when my wife and I had three boys, it was just assumed they’d all three become great baseball players because, hey, it’s in their genes and I’m a pretty good coach. But life – as it usually does – had something else in store. We spend all our time teaching our kids the best we can, but it was dad’s turn for a life lesson this time.

Our oldest child is a tall, skinny left-hander. Those who know baseball know that tall left-handers are always in high demand. But there was a problem: This child had zero interest in baseball.

I’d ask him if he wanted to play on a baseball team. “Nope,” he would tell me. It wasn’t that he didn’t like sports, or that he wasn’t athletic. It was that his interests were more along the lines of soccer and basketball.

I didn’t push baseball, but once a year I would come back with the question, “Do you want to play baseball this season?” His answer never changed. “No.”

My second son is three years younger. He liked all sports, including baseball, and when he signed up to play I was thrilled. Considering my professional relationship with baseball, I wanted to give him his space. I didn’t coach him. For three seasons I just watched him play.

Finally, during his second year on a traveling team, I began to help coach. Going to the field with him was a joyful and cherished experience. I loved that time together.

But he was excelling much more in other sports. He would always give a good effort during baseball practices and games, but he didn’t want to take extra hitting or throw more on the side between practices. By age 13, I could tell that his time in baseball was nearing an end.

Saying Goodbye to Baseball … Again

I had already walked away from baseball professionally to spend more time with my family. My baseball life took me on the road about 120 nights per year. I chose another direction to spend more time being a husband, a dad, and a coach, and I just always assumed I’d encounter the game again with my sons.

But as my oldest son got to high school and gravitated toward academic interests that I had no background in, I began to realize just how much fun it was to watch a child follow his own dreams instead of mine.

I realized that baseball represented my dream, not my kids’.

During all of this, my youngest played one year of baseball on a neighborhood team. I never got to coach him because I was with his older brother’s more active team. When it came time to sign up for baseball again, he politely declined. Basketball was his thing now.

My last baseball-playing son just walked away from the sport too as he prepares to move to high school and focus on other interests. He’s a runner and an Ultimate Frisbee player now.

A few times this spring, I wondered – How good of baseball players could my sons have been? Then I stopped myself from going down that path. Because their dreams weren’t the same as mine.

My sons are carving out their own paths, and while none of those paths involve baseball, they’re doing what they want to do. And they’re truly happy, which makes mom and dad happy.

And that’s the way it should be.

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