Rich Cohen loves hockey. He loves watching his kids excel at it. Like any parent, the last thing he wants to see is for them to struggle, or worse, to not get their fair share—whether it’s playing time or respect.
In his lovely new book, Pee Wees: Confessions of a Hockey Parent, Rich tells one story about a conversation he had with his son’s coach. His son wasn’t being given the time on the ice Rich thought he deserved, so he tried to make a case for it.
The coach, on the other hand, had no patience. “Let me ask you this, is Micah happy?” he told him. “Yes,” Rich replied. “Is Micah having fun?” “Yes,” Rich had to admit. And that’s when the coach got him with something all us parents ought to be reminded of: “Then what do you care?”
If our kids are having fun, if they’re happy, if they’re learning, if they’re building bonds with teammates, then nothing else matters. Winning doesn’t matter. Playing time doesn’t matter. Maybe even grades and SAT scores and college admissions don’t matter. Our job is not to optimize our kids for success, it’s not to fight for every advantage and opportunity like the world is running out of them.
Our job is to give our kids what we didn’t get. Our job is to set our kids up for life—to teach them how to be present, how to find things they love, how to be a good person, how to respond to the situations life puts us in.
That’s it. Everything else? What do we care?