8 Steps to a Happier Family Life
You can make your family a priority—and make your kids feel supported—but still not make it to every event. In fact, when it comes to watching team sports, heavy involvement (like critiquing, shouting, or overzealously cheering) can make kids anxious. "There is sometimes added stress in seeing Mom and Dad in the stands," says Wayne Henninger, a father of three, a Little League coach, and the editor of an international newsletter for Little League families. He recommends that parents be as low-key and quiet as possible. And if your attendance is going to be spotty, at least make it predictable. "Don't say, 'I'll try to make it,' only to no-show," says Payne. "Say, 'I'll be there once a month,' then stick to your word. It's healthier to set expectations." Unsure of what to prioritize? Ask your child, says Taylor. She may not care about a swim meet but could be dying for you to chaperone a field trip. And when letdown comes (a business trip conflicts with the spring concert), there is a right way and a wrong way to break the news. Don't jump in with justification ("I'm sorry I'm going to miss the big day, but ..."). "It makes a bigger impact to validate your child's feelings," says Taylor. "Instead say, 'I can see you're upset. I'm sad, too.' Kids and parents need to recover from disappointment, but they also need to feel it."