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Friday, April 3, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Family

Mama Bear Moxie: Let your kids find their own passions

By Kristina Phelan For The Spokesman-Review

I grew up in a very athletic family. My parents loved to go on walks and take hikes. They signed us up for any sport available. I played soccer, softball, basketball, volleyball, tennis and was on the swim team. There was even a summer where we took bowling lessons.

My parents saw athletics as a way for us to stay active as well as develop important leadership and team-building skills. Two of their three daughters went on to play sports in college although one of us (ahem, me) played for free while my sister earned scholarships.

I want to give my kids the same kind of upbringing that I had or better. I signed my sons up for soccer when they were little and then baseball when their hand-eye coordination improved. Both have played basketball as well. One son did a year of football while the other did a year of swim team. For the most part, they have been involved in a lot of different teams over the past few years. Our daughter has been in soccer and dance as well.

I always try to encourage them to go out for a team because I know that it would be good for them. My boys have the skills to play but are hesitant to be part of the team. I was involved in sports almost all year long while they are not. There have been times in the past when I had to really push – I like to call it strong encouragement –for them to be involved in a sports team. However, I’ve stepped back from making them do something they really don’t want to do.

I want them to be involved with things that make them happy. Now, this doesn’t mean I still have them take choir or band – that is an entirely different subject. But when it comes to sports, I don’t require them to join if their heart isn’t in it. It has been hard to step back and allow them the freedom to choose. I don’t want them to miss out on all of the fun and excitement that being on a team can bring.

Scholastic Bowl has been a huge part of our family ever since my oldest started middle school. For the unaware, Scholastic Bowl is a trivia team that competes with other schools in our area.

This has been a game changer for my oldest. He loves math and is great at answering random questions. Scholastic Bowl is his passion. He lives and breathes it. He even had a count down to when the season started this year and was mad when practice was canceled.

Now both of my sons are in Scholastic Bowl, and it is going to be an exciting season. I’ve that sport doesn’t need sweating at the end of the game with a racing heart. However, there have been many Scholastic Bowl matches where I am experiencing just that watching my boys answer questions that are far beyond me.

I would much rather my kids participate in something that they love rather than make them go out for the sport that I think they should do. Their joy in discovering their own interests is part of parenting that is both magical and inspiring.

Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane-area resident now living in Illinois. Visit her website at

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