Being Present is the Best Gift You Can Give.

Dec 23, 2019 12:20:00 PM / by Wayne G. McDonnell, Jr., M.B.A.

InCourage Best Gifts

Parenting is hard work. Most of us are overly - tough on ourselves, and the holidays seem to amplify our perceived flaws and failures.

As you’re spending precious time with your family this season, remember that sometimes the best present is being present

Of course our kids want fun—usually expensive—packages to unwrap, but there’s no greater gift than sharing our time and attention.

We know that’s not always easy. Carpools and snack duty, rescheduled practices and dirty uniforms all add up—and quickly. And it’s when we’re feeling the pressure to be perfect parents that many of us snap, using words we don’t mean in tones that make us cringe as we hear ourselves.

We look back to our ‘holiday selves’ and wish we could rewind and get back to a more level place, to the parent we want to be and that our children deserve.

We can. 

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We may not make it through each day perfectly, and that’s not the point. Our goal should be to commit to making improvements that are reasonable, sustainable and that recharge our emotional batteries!


With that goal, here are 10 resolutions we can commit to in 2020 to help us become better sports parents (and just happier, overall):

In 2020, I/We will commit to: 

  1. More dinners at home. Yes, I’ll make their favorite, and yes, they will still have to eat their veggies.
  2. Giving my undivided attention: I’ll set aside time each day to spend time with my kid/s with no cell phones, no interruptions. 
  3. Unconditional, non-confrontational support from the stands. I’ll let them know I know they’ve got this. And they don’t need me yelling about it.
  4. Being a better listener. No more endless questions about practice or schedules—they will tell me what’s important.
  5. Praising hard work. Some days none of this is fun. But sticking with it and trying hard are as much a win as any score. Sometimes I'm louder about the other things, but I know this is what matters. 
  6. Doing something together that has nothing to do with sports. Go to a museum, have a movie marathon, just something that doesn’t involve a competition.
  7. Stop complaining and remembering that the life lessons they get from sports are something I can’t give them on my own.
  8. Remember that the sports experience starts with packing the car (which I’ll do with as little stress as possible) and includes the ride to the game (I’ll let them decide what we listen to or talk about on the way). 
  9. Modeling good behavior. I’ll  show good sportsmanship from the sidelines, I’ll put family first, and I’ll do it with a smile.
  10. Remember that it’s not about us, it’s about them. So, I’ll encourage them to get out there and have fun!

Resolutions can be hard to keep. If they weren’t, there would be no unused gym memberships or unread books on our nightstands. Focusing on being better parents to our athletes is a resolution we can keep, because every day is another chance to get it right. 

What positive behaviors are you committing to that will make a difference in the lives of your family and kids? Let us know and we’ll share them in a future post.

Introducing inCouragement

There are a lot of issues that parents have to face in the evolving world of youth sports. It can be stressful, confusing and sometimes infuriating. And, while each situation is unique, many of the issues parents face are universal—and the inCourage team can help. We want you—and your children—to have a positive sports experience. Please share your questions and concerns with us in the comments below or send us an email at 


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Topics: coaches, athletic directors, athletes, parents, youth sports, teen athletes, gifts, new year resolutions, sports parents

Wayne G. McDonnell, Jr., M.B.A.

Written by Wayne G. McDonnell, Jr., M.B.A.

For nearly two decades, Wayne G. McDonnell, Jr., M.B.A. has been intimately involved in sports management education, sports media, and coaching. He achieved the rank of Clinical Professor of Sports Management and served as an Academic Chair. McDonnell was a Co-Director, Program Development and Special Initiatives for New York University’s Sports and Society. McDonnell is a Forbes Sports Money contributor with a focus on the business of baseball. He has also written for other baseball-related periodicals such as Maple Street Press’ Yankees Annual 2010, Yankees Yearly 2012, 2013, and Bleacher Report. He was awarded the NYU School of Professional Studies Award for Teaching Excellence in 2011 as well as an Award for Outstanding Service in 2008. McDonnell’s research on the game of baseball has been consistently featured at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture.