Monday, January 28, 2013

How To: Tell your Parents you're Playing pro Ultimate

It's been a few days since you had a positive showing at the professional ultimate tryout or combine. Congratulations! You may not quite believe the magnitude of your experience. You can't get it off your mind.

For those who are lucky enough to be offered an ultimate playing contract, it may feel like your whole life has changed. You know you have to tell your parents. But you may not be sure you're prepared for how they might react.

Confused? You're Not Alone
If you've just learned you're going to play ultimate professionally, you're not alone. With twenty total teams in the two professional ultimate leagues – AUDL and MLU – there are many talented ultimate players who are being signed.

You might feel confused, scared, or shocked by the news. You might think, "This can't really be happening." And you know you'll probably have to tell your parents.

Preparing to Talk to Parents
No matter how close you are to your parents, you're going to wonder how they'll react. It's one thing if your parents realize you're playing ultimate and they're OK with that. But it's another thing if they've expected you to get a real job. Even parents who know their sons are playing ultimate can still be disappointed or worried about their future.

Your parents' personalities also play a part in how they'll react. Some parents are easy to talk to or calmer in a crisis. Some are more emotional, more easily stressed out, more likely to get upset or angry, to yell or cry, or express themselves loudly.

Some parents don't show how they feel at first. They may take time to absorb the news. Others react quickly and there's no mistaking how they feel. Some will listen and be sensitive to your feelings. Some parents will spring into action, taking charge and telling you what to do.

Think about how your parents have reacted to other situations. Try to imagine how they might respond — but remember it's impossible to really know for sure. Still, thinking about what to expect can help you feel prepared for the conversation you plan to have.

The Conversation
First, find the words. You might say, "I have something difficult to tell you. I found out that I'm playing ultimate professionally." Then wait. Allow your parents to absorb what you said.

Be prepared to deal with the reaction. What happens next? Will your parents be angry, stressed, or emotional? Will they lecture you? Use harsh words? Ask a ton of questions?

Of course, not every parent yells. Many don't. Even if parents have a strong reaction at first, most want to help their children. Lots of ulti players are surprised at how supportive their parents turn out to be.

Share your fears and worries, such as, "I'm scared about how I'm going to handle this, what my friends will think, and what it means about school or gainful employment." Or, "I can't believe this is happening to me and I'm not sure what to do."

Putting your feelings into words takes plenty of maturity and it's not easy to do. Don't worry if the words don't come out perfectly or if you cry or get emotional as you're saying them. It can help to think about your feelings ahead of time. If you can't imagine expressing your feelings out loud, consider writing them down in a letter.

Talking About Your Decisions
Now that you've told your parents, you'll have some important decisions to make. Talking decisions over with others can help. Sometimes other ultimate players – even from other cities – offer a new angle or ideas.

Whatever you decide, it needs to be what you want, not what someone else wants you to do. That's especially true if you think most of the financial support for playing pro ultimate will fall to you. Becoming a pro ultimate player affects your education, job, and financial future. It's a big job.

When Parents Have Your Back
Talking to parents whenever you can is a good way to sort through the many feelings and issues that arise. In the best of situations, parents can help you make important decisions and support your choices. They can be a source of guidance and encouragement.

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