The Skateboard Moms' Blog

A Blog by Women Skaters, for People Everywhere.

Better Parenting Through Skating April 2, 2008

Filed under: extreme sports,kids,moms,mothers,skateboarding,women — skateboardmoms @ 4:26 pm
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by Karen Rennie

I have been asked many times why I let my young son skateboard. People suggest he might pick up bad habits or foul language from the older kids who skate. My response is always that hanging out with skaters has made my son Chris a better person.

“Isn’t he missing a lot by not playing TEAM sports?”
I hear that question all the time. We have done the soccer and baseball thing. We paid the money to join leagues that other parents didn’t want to volunteer for. We learned that the soccer commissioner was hiding money, the baseball commissioner was stacking his team with the leagues best players only to be certain that that the opposing team cheated when his “superteam” lost. When adults started expecting their kids to “toughen up” (There’s no crying in baseball) while they coached them with loud voices and pointed fingers in faces, we decided that this team sport thing was really cutting into our family time and values.

Watching Chris’ continued attempts to use a pitching machine long after her son gave up, a playmates mom asked me how I taught Chris to persevere. I am certain that he learned perseverance at the skatepark. He learned at a very early age that the key to success is practice. At age 4 my son would try all day to land the same trick. If he didn’t succeed, he would return the next day to try again. You don’t walk into a skatepark and drop into a ramp the very first time. You have to fall. You have to pick yourself up. You have to figure out what you did wrong and correct the problem.

When Chris did finally land a trick he had attempted for days, the other skaters would cheer- not because he was doing something no one else could do- but because he achieved a personal best. Skateboarding teaches you to set personal goals and to cheer on those who achieve them. It doesn’t matter if you are landing a 720 over a 20-foot gap, or you are landing your very first kickflip. If you have tried to achieve something you set your mind to and practiced again and again- the skate community is there to cheer for you and congratulate you. People that skate together often are a team; they are a team of people working to achieve their personal best.

“How did he learn to skate like that?”
Skaters share secrets. Skaters teach each other. Skaters seem to only complete seriously with each other for money, and usually in a friendly manner. Ever watch a televised skating event? Notice how the people competing seem to know each other and cheer each other on? That’s because when big business isn’t involved in offering tons of money to these skaters to skate against each other, they are usually skating with each other. They were probably together at a backyard ramp or pool the week before the competition skating together.

In backyards across the neighborhood my son has developed an understanding of protocol, hierarchy. He shows respect for elders- and just people in general. You can’t just walk into someone’s backyard and drop into his or her pool or ramp. You have to be invited. You have to show respect. You don’t just assume you have a right to skate there. No one owes you anything. You have to earn the privilege to skate there by showing respect and waiting your turn. You have to be a good enough person for someone to invite you along in the first place.

In skateparks it’s a little more difficult- but the end result is usually the same. There are those parents who use the skateparks as “concrete babysitters”. Parents who drop their kids off at the park on their way to the manicurist or to go have a beer at the sports bar. These are the same parents who don’t want to do their volunteer work for the soccer league. The difference is that eventually the skate community will teach these kids how to behave. Even if the parents don’t want to watch their kids to cheer them on, the other skaters will, and eventually the kids will want to be accepted in the skating community. If they continue to have a bad attitude, they won’t have anyone to skate with. They won’t be invited to the backyard ramp, or they will be vibed out of the park.

I’ve been asked so often if I am afraid of him getting hurt. Of course I am. As a mother I am afraid every day for his safety. But I have to say; he has gotten hurt much more severely just walking off the back porch and not paying attention. When he’s skating he wears pads and a helmet and he has a deep mental focus on what he is doing. I believe it is safer than chasing a ball at high speed during an intense competition with no pads.

“What about the older kids he is exposed to?”
In team sports the kids are grouped together by similar age. I have to say that I’m not sure if competition among similarly aged kids is a good thing. When each kid is expected to conform to a group and vying for the coaches or parents attention, there can be a lot of bullying. In skating- the older kids are just happy to see a young kid getting excited about skating. I have been told more than once by these older kids that they wished they had a mom that supported their skating.
I tell them someday they will be better parents through skateboarding.

At schools where they are trying to find a way to have “sports” without competition- skateboarding is the answer. If we want to build confidence in our kids, and get them involved in a physical activity, we should have skating as an after school activity in our elementary schools. The best thing we can do for our community is build more skateparks.

karen.jpg

Karen, her husband, and her son Chris in the Ridiculous Pool!

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28 Responses to “Better Parenting Through Skating”

  1. petebyrne Says:

    Wonderful! Wish I had written it. My now 35-year old son remains among my best friends.

    He explained the difference between skating and team sports. A an ice hockey player for twelve years, and a good one, he would come back to the bench after a heroic effort and get told he had had lousy shift. Conversely, make a bone-headed play that happened to work out and you get all the kudos.

    About skating, he cited most of the things you said so well in your posting.

    Back when I was sixty-seven, he gave me a 40-some inch Sector Nine longboard. I suspect he’s trying to accererate his inheritance.

    As a Mom, you are one in a million.

    Like

  2. spaidly Says:

    I’m a skate dad. Now that the park is open in Knoxville, Tehnahhsayee, we are having a lot of fun together (me and the boyz).

    If he were playing a team sport, I would only get to watch. With skateboarding, I get to play, too!

    Trouble is, I’m 41 now, and when I fall it takes so much longer to heal. Worth it.

    Wear your helmet and pads, people, pleez!

    Like

  3. Travis Says:

    Great post! I know a really cool skateboard mom who just had her second skate baby (Noah). She owns two awesome skate shops in Texas, and a great online skate store. Her name is Perry, check out her company and site it is pretty cool. Here is a link to their site and a pic of her skating at the top of the page.

    http://www.wolyboardcompany.com/contact.aspx

    Like

  4. Barry Says:

    As a dad of a teen skateboarder, I hear many of the same concerns. To begin with, skateboard kids seem to have a reputation of being trouble makers, or kids looking to get into trouble. I know that my son and his friends are probably a better bunch of kids than the “jock” kids. All they want to do is find good skate spots, do their tricks, and be left alone. Then main rules I try to instill in him: Don’t get into trouble by doing anything you think is wrong, be courteous to others, and be safe. For my son, skakeboarding is his own mental challenge, much better for him than team sports.

    Like

  5. Cole Says:

    A little over a year ago my then 6 year old son got into skating. I was new to skating too, and we both got boards and joined a skatepark. I have been nothing but impressed with the skaters at this park. They’ve always showed my son respect and the experienced older skaters are always there to help him out with a new trick. He in turn now spends time helping other kids. What really surprised me though was how willing this group is to help me, a 46 year old beginner. It really is just about the skating. It seems that every organized sport we’ve considered is more about the winning – at least in the minds of many of the parents.

    Like

  6. scott Says:

    Cool and unique site! I still talk to some of skaters i was friends with 25 years ago! Great sport!

    Like

  7. populist Says:

    Populist says : I absolutely agree with this !

    Like

  8. Donny Says:

    I really liked this post a lot. being a 24 year old guy who wants kids, this post helped. love the layout

    Like

  9. That was an amazing entry. That was truly one of the most awesome parent-of-a-skater essays/articles I’ve ever read. Gosh, I really wish there were more parents in the world with your attitude.

    There are a lot of parents in the world who are awful parents and have no business raising kids. Then there are parents who are supportive and decent, but they are not UNDERSTANDING. They may buy skate gear and boards for their kids, but they don’t get WHY skating is important.

    You totally get it.

    Of course, I’m grateful for the awful parents too. It was thanks to one of them that I made my free skate video, as I explain in this intro clip…

    Like

  10. Gregg Says:

    Skateboard Moms, Dads, and Kids- We have a last-minute skateboarding job opening, and we are happy to have you, or whoever takes the job, bring your kids with you!

    My summer camp in Waterford, Maine, Camp Waziyatah (a.k.a. the camp from the TV show “Bug Juice” (www.wazi.com) is looking for a skateboard instructor/counselor.

    Details: Must be over 18. Must be able to live with and supervise a cabin of 6 to 10 kids. Must be a good skater, who can teach kids on a Fresh Park small obstacles park. Must pass a background check. Be fun and energetic. No obvious, offensive, or major tattoos or piercings. Summer camp is a blast. This is a very fun and great job and how many people really get paid to skateboard every day?

    Dates needed are June 19th to August 25th.

    Please let me know if you can post this message or help suggest someone. I can be contacted at gregg@wazi.com.

    Like

  11. LA Skate Mom Says:

    I loved this article and agree 100%. My son is six and and I am a single parent. We skate park hop all thru out LA county. He loves the challenge of learning new tricks and loves meeting new friends…

    Like

  12. The faculty of Frig University (Frig U) supports your efforts.

    Like

  13. Bill Says:

    Good for you… actually spending time with your kid and your family. America needs more of YOU!

    Like

  14. Erik Says:

    Hey guy’s

    My company sells a 0 cal., 0 sugar, 1 carb XS energy drink with the highest levels of B 12 ranging from 5000% to 10,000 % and extremely healthy. With the amount of sugar in the other energy drinks ( sometimes up to 6 tbsp per 12oz ) its no wonder the health of the young is falling fast in this country. I invite you to check out this one of a kind product, which out sells red bull, at my web site extremesportsnutritionnow.com. With 14 great flavors I’m sure you’ll find a few you enjoy. Hope to see you there

    Like

  15. […] and confidence.”  Skateparks are no longer looked at as a place that bad kids hang out.  Parents and teachers are beginning to see the benefits skateboarding has provided, not only to their own […]

    Like

  16. Vince Says:

    Well said.

    Like

  17. Anna Says:

    I met you at the Cove last week. I would like to sk8 soon.

    Like

  18. Jeff Says:

    I coach my son in baseball and football and always encourage him to skate and surf as well.

    When at a coaches clinic, an ex-pro baseball player commented on how traditional team sports have seen a decline because so many kids are into action sports nowadays. The reason isn’t simply the adreneline but the fact that many parents aren’t on the sidelines screaming at the kids and no coaches constantly berating their performance.

    Sports like skating, surfing, and BMX takes the pressure factor off and let’s the kids just play.

    It’s great to see parents involved but as more and more start to accept these sports let’s hope that they don’t start to take the fun out them.

    Like

  19. Ed Slateford Says:

    Thanks for the great article Karen – it really hits the nail on the head. I hope you don’t mind but I linked to your article in a blog post I wrote on my website http://www.skateboardsofchoice.co.uk/news/article/100

    Best regards
    Ed

    Like

  20. Erick Mattos Says:

    This is the most inspirational and motivating post I have ever seen. As a skateboarder, and a father of 2 (one more on the way). I grew up with parents who would brag to members of their church that I landed a new trick, or that other people cheered for me.
    They never saw skateboarding as a true stereotype. Skaters are drug addicts or gangster or even trouble makers? No, if that was the case then I’m darn sure every other sport you can say the same just because a few basketball players used steroids, doesn’t mean basketball is a drug addict sport.

    It depends on the person you are and the parents who support you. My father would do his best to support my skating. He knew that I would one day find my calling in skateboarding, which is my Freestyle Skateboarding website called Freestylers United. Now, I am more dedicated then ever. I want to bring my style of skateboarding to whole new heights and let the world see it. Give those who do skate Freestyle, something unique online and offline. There are 15 year olds that I know that skate, they’re very mature and they have common sense, taught to them by their parents.

    Skateboarding is a way of life, like a soccer player who plays soccer by himself, kicking the ball everyday to escape reality for a moment and practice how the ball and his feet work. That’s us skateboarders. We practice and move to a new reality for a short while. When skateboarding goes social, it heightens the experience x100.
    Your right, when someone lands a kickflip, even if the guy watching you land it can do it every try, and he can do it down stairs. He doesn’t rub it in your face or think to himself “I’m better then that guy” Because it’s all personal. We don’t care what others think. Because if we did, skateboarding wouldn’t be as fun as it is.

    Thank you for this article, I want to share this with my website visitors and my facebook friends. We need more mature people to see skateboarding as an outlet of creativity and stress relief as well. Karen, your an amazing mother and an extraordinary person! Thank you for being there for your son and for understanding and standing up for skateboarders!

    Take care and stay awesome!

    Erick ‘Panda’ Mattos

    Like

  21. FoxHounder Says:

    Nice Article. 😀

    Like

  22. belkins10 Says:

    My son is i 2nd grade and wants to go to the skatepark for the first time. I’m kinda nervous. Should I be? I have a video of his skills on YOUTUBE. He’s just getting started. But his tricks look cool in slow mo. LOL, doesn’t EVERYTHING look cool in slowmo? LOL. Check it out >> http://bit.ly/edxQlg

    Like

  23. I like your website. Want to buy a longboard skateboard, should i buy a complete setup or buy deck and everything seperately?

    I am looking to buy a relatively expensive board, probably a loaded. But does it make sense to purchase a complete board or just the board and put custom trucks and wheels on it? If so, what kind? I am looking at the Loaded Pintail and Dervish. If somebody wants to sell me their board then send me an offer!!!

    Like

  24. Jen Myers Says:

    Thanks, Karen for your wonderful essay. It inspired me to start a blog re: why skating is so good for our kids. So far we’ve discussed success, science, and risk taking. http://momsatthebowl.blogspot.com/
    I’d love your comments!

    Like

  25. thanks for the useful page! I have been browsing
    for anything similar to this. i’ll be checking your rss so i do not miss out the good things! again, amazing page please keep it up! Please pardon me if my english is not good.

    Like

  26. gemc Says:

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today. I feel alone and isolated as the mom of a “skateboarder”. Your words reinforced what I know intuitively to be true and real; how he lives his passion every day and shines in the support of his “skate crew of buddies”, his family away from home. But I have been wrestling with allowing him so much freedom to pursue his passion; he stays away from home for 8 hours every day (if he could). Nothing else interests him. I am worried, and I don’t want to be. Any advice or support would be appreciated.

    Like


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