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Growing Up Catholic Parent Conversations Good Sports Six Parent Small Group Sessions on Youth Sports

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Growing Up Catholic Parent Conversations
Good Sports
Six Parent Small Group Sessions on Youth Sports
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Gather your parents for faith-sharing and conversation while their children are in faith formation classes!

These small group sessions for parents are about where the rubber meets the road: the challenges and joys of parenting today. Here is a great way your parish or school can accompany your parents as they fulfill their important vocation.  Help your parents enter into meaningful conversations about how their faith informs their parenting and way of life and connect with other parents. In our experience, when you gather parents to discuss issues such as these, it's hard to get them to stop talking!

View all parent session resources here.

When should we first sign our children up for sports? If our child doesn’t play on this team this season, will he be able to keep up next season? Is the money outlay for the travel team worth it? What do we do with our other children when one is playing in a weekend tournament? Are we the only ones feeling like we are at the mercy of our kids’ sports schedules?

Such are the questions many parents are asking today-sometimes out loud, but more often silently to themselves-about the world of youth sports. Parents who have a faith commitment have other questions about children’s sports experiences too. Do we skip Mass for Sunday games? Even if we have the resources, are the expenses what we are meant to spend our money on? What about families who can’t afford for their children to play elite sports? Where do youth sports fall in our family’s values and priorities?

Many Catholic families today skip Mass on Sunday mornings because of their children’s sports commitments. However, this is just a symptom of a much broader dilemma facing families when it comes to participation in the world of youth athletics. These sessions explore the impact that competitive youth sports programs are having on families today, including some of the emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual effects. It gently raises questions and invites parents to reevaluate what choices are healthy and balanced for their children, and affirms that sometimes counter-cultural decisions may be in everyone’s best interest.

The sessions include:

  1. Potential and Perils
    • What Does Faith Have to Do with Youth Sports? - Pope Francis and the possibilities and challenges of sports.
    • Gifts and Benefits of Youth Sports - Opportunities for growth, competence, humility, and healthy bodies.
    • Perils of Youth Sports - Pressure, overscheduling, overuse injuries, and fear.
  2. It's All About Balance
    • Balance for the Child Athlete - Is it "just a game"? When parents place too much importance on youth sports.
    • Balance for the Whole Family - When sports come first: balance with family, self-care, and school.
  3. What Are Sports Teaching Our Kids?
    • The Good - Personal growth, being gracious with teammates, and developing virtues.
    • The Bad and the Ugly - Adult bad sports, deprioritizing faith, putting sports first, and setting limits.
  4. Sport, Money, and Faith
    • When There Are Limited Resources - How much is enough? What about families who have less?
    • A Widening Gap: Club Sports and Travel Teams - Counting the cost, noticing peer pressure, and making tradeoffs.
  5. Are Kids Allowed to Be Kids?
    • The Importance of Boredom - Unscheduled time and the advantages of informal play.
    • The Risk of Burnout - When children feel trapped and can't quit.
  6. How Could Life Be Different?​​​​​​​
    • Setting Healthy Limits - When parents let coaches call the shots. Freedom from and freedom for.
    • Preserving Some Breathing Room - Being the parent your child needs, prioritizing Mass, and letting sports be sports.

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This is a downloadable, reproducible product sold with a lifetime parish or school license. Please read the full license terms below.

Product License

This reproducible eResource is sold with a lifetime license for use within a parish, school, or diocesan office. You are allowed to make unlimited copies for use within your own community. You may also email these to members of your team or participants in your program. If you serve more than one parish or school, each should purchase its own license. You may not post our eResources to any web site without explicit permission to do so. Please contact us if you have any questions. Thank you for cooperating with our honor system regarding our product licenses.

Format: eResource
Product code: GUC703
Dimensions: 8½" x 11"
Length: 31 pages
The Pastoral Center
Written by Ann Naffziger


Ann Naffziger has her MDiv from the Jesuit School of Theology and MA in Biblical Languages from the Graduate Theological Union, both in Berkeley.  Ann has worked in a variety of parish roles, as well as serving as a hospital chaplain, spiritual director, scripture instructor, and adjunct faculty member at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University. She has written articles in the field of spirituality and scripture for AmericaBustedHalo.comCommonwealThe National Catholic ReporterSpiritual Life: A Journal of Contemplative Spirituality, and other publications. Ann is the author of The Catholic Way, annual Advent & Lent bookets, and a variety of other pastoral resources published by The Pastoral Center, which she co-directs with her husband Paul Canavese. She is also a Master Gardener and girls' softball coach. She lives in Alameda, CA, with her husband and two daughters.

View all resources by Ann Naffziger