By Vasilia Polycarpou, The Sports Financial Literacy Academy
Healthy co-parenting requires setting your own emotions aside and compromising to a great extent, since the child’s needs always come first. For a professional athlete, maintaining a balance between their demanding athletic career and complex co-parenting responsibilities can be very challenging and intimidating, but not impossible.
A professional sports career can be highly demanding, with long training hours, extensive traveling and hectic schedules which can change at any time, based on the requirements of the sport. This can strain the athlete both physically and emotionally, making it difficult for them to be present for their child. Therefore, efficient time management and priority-setting are crucial. A schedule needs to be set where time is allocated to training, competitions and travel but also to spending quality time with their child, and being there to create a sense of stability for them.
Effective and regular communication between co-parents is also key for meeting the responsibilities that come with raising a child. Athletes need to dedicate time to discuss schedules with their co-parent to avoid conflict, make parenting decisions jointly and manage expectations. This way they can both be equally involved in their child’s life. They can also keep each other up-to-date regarding events in their child’s life, by sharing an online calendar of the child’s weekly schedule. Moreover, creating a co-parenting plan can help them address issues concerning their child and its upbringing, including a visitation schedule, education, finances, medical needs, holidays and special events.
Furthermore, maintaining a good relationship with their co-parent is necessary for making any arrangements work. Seeking professional help, such as a counsellor or mediator could also help in nurturing a healthy co-parenting relationship where boundaries are set and there is involvement from both parents. These professionals can help set guidelines for decision-making and conflict resolution.
Being adaptable and willing to make compromises when needed, is also important for healthy co-parenting, especially since a child growing up needs a stable environment, characterized by consistency. For professional athletes, uncertainty is part of their career in sports, due to potential injuries, competition schedules and team transfers, among other things, which can disrupt co-parenting arrangements. In such cases, athletes need to be open to finding alternatives and compromising for what is deemed best for their child.
Finally, having a support system of people they can trust to help when things get difficult with co-parenting can be a game-changer. Sometimes, they may need someone to step in and help if they are traveling or have to compete for example. Their support system may include family members, close friends, or even professional nannies. However, it is crucial that they don’t over-do it and consider these people their replacement and an easy solution when things get stressful. Athletes need to maintain a balance and be as present and committed as they can to their child’s life both physically and emotionally.
All in all, co-parenting undoubtedly poses a wide range of challenges for athletes who need to do their best to maintain a balance between their athletic career and co-parenting endeavors. Being proactive and open to addressing the aforementioned challenges can help create an environment of stability and consistency for the athlete’s child while also allowing them to pursue and fulfill their athletic goals.
The Money Smart Athlete® Blog is established and run by the Sports Financial Literacy Academy® (SFLA). Through its education programs, the SFLA has the vision to financially educate and empower athletes of all ages to become better people, not just better athletes. For more information on our courses, our SFLA Approved Trainer Program®, and how they can benefit you and your clients, please get in touch with us at [email protected].