Weight of the World: Children experience life’s pressures too soon

Caroline Meinzenbach, Opinion Editor

When I was a kid, everyone always asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. There were the typical answers like teacher, vet, singer and the most popular — professional athlete.
Often times, parents pressure their kids to be the best athletes. They want their children to excel at every sport they attempt, convinced they have “a gift.”
We’ve all seen them — they stand on the sidelines of their child’s game, screaming at the top of their lungs. In our heads, we are thanking our parents for not being that way.
In high school, I understand why sports get so crazy. College scholarships can depend on a player’s performance in one game alone.
But 11-year-old kids are traveling all over the country for soccer games.
It’s too intense. There is so much pressure on these kids to win.
At age 11, they should be worrying about their next spelling test, not their next tournament.
News flash: most kids are not going to become professional athletes.
I always played sports to have fun — not because I was being pressured to win a tournament. I mean, isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? Playing for the love of the game?
I think parents want to live vicariously through their children. These parents weren’t good enough at these sports, so they’re praying to God their kids will be. Or they’re afraid to be considered failures as parents if their child fails. But if your child skips a few football practices only to end up with an academic scholarship, what is there to be mad about?
Like in the classic chick-flick “A Cinderella Story”, when Austin quits football for Sam in the end, his dad yells, “You’re throwing away your dream.”
Austin yells back, “No, Dad, I’m throwing away yours.”
And he was. He didn’t like football; he wanted to be a writer.
Moral of the story: When it comes to finding your career, start with what you enjoy doing. No one else’s opinion matters but your own.