Powersports parenting

ATVing, snowmobiling and dirt biking are healthy, outdoor activities for the family

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A young woman with brown hair sitting on a green ATV.

Children develop a special bond with their parents when they are given the chance to participate in motorized sports. — photo courtesy Trish Drinkle

Are these kids being parented properly? Are video games and television really to blame for their lack of empathy and concern for the people around them? I wonder how many of their parents had the opportunity to spend time with their kids. I mean, really spend time connecting?

I have to admit, I do play Halo with my kids and enjoy it. They are so cute, finding me weapons so I can fumble through the terrain trying to feel all super bad and tough. “Here mom, take this sword—let's go find Leo, he’s hiding behind that rock.” Leo waits for me to swing like a one-legged duck in an attempt to “kill” him.

Are video games causing insensitivity? I don’t think so. I think it goes deeper. We can shelter our children from every “evil” on the planet and they could still potentially become drones of grey emotion. What is the secret?

I, for one, believe that spending time in the great outdoors is a true source of connectivity between parent and child. Dirt bikes, snowmobiles and ATVs—heck yeah! Let the family games begin!

With power comes responsibility

When parents choose to introduce their kids to motorsports, it is a decision that is not to be made lightly. The last thing we as parents want to see are bumps, bruises and, worse yet, blood coming from our little ones. But why do we do it? 

There is a huge element of trust on both the child's and the parent’s behalf.  The child trusts the parent and listens to each and every piece of instruction carefully. If he or she chooses to disregard the basic rules, game over. Privileges are over. For our family, if you so much as move a bike or ATV 10 feet without a helmet on, you are done. The machine is sold—no ifs, ands or buts about it.

In a Lord of the Flies-like hierarchy of existence, children can become super-empowered as their peers become their basic source of influence. The tables turn as all of a sudden the parent becomes the Yoda of dirt biking, snowmobiling and ATVing.  Wide-eyed and trembling with excitement, the child knows they are part of a very elite group of kids who get to release their inner braaap. We may not have had fancy homes or trips abroad, but my children have always been the envy of their peers. Usually able to ride right from our doorstep, our homes, albeit humble, have been dubbed dream homes, simply because we could ride right from our front door. 

Building trust

It takes a mountain of trust to expose your children to powersports. The parent must trust the child to follow instructions and obey rules. If they do not, the consequences can be huge. No parent wants to see their child hurt. On the child’s part, whether they are six or 16, they have to trust in their parent's direction. They trust that their parent will keep them safe. Education goes a long way. Winter survival, summer survival and first aid are some of the educational topics covered by powersports parents. These kids grow up with a great respect for the world around them. How about that for a reality check? It’s not just fun and games—responsibility and respect go hand in hand with the smiles along their wilderness path.

Many rewards

What can they expect to enjoy? Adventure beyond concrete walls. Adventure that encompasses fishing, getting dirty and pushing physical boundaries to grow the feeling of success. It’s not always easy. Obstacles along the way can cripple a fragile ego, which is probably why kids who moto and shred have determined and strong-willed personalities. They have encountered trying times and persevered. The encouragement and mentoring their parents have empowered these kids with help them to become successful individuals. 

I asked a grown-up moto kid what she thought being raised in a motosports family brought to her childhood. Chelsea Seminoff, the daughter of Aaron Seminoff, who is the owner of Main Jet Motorsports in Nelson, B.C., answered this question without hesitation.

“Dirt biking and sledding taught us how to be awesome,” said Seminoff. “It teaches us how to push our boundaries and to face our fears early on in life, building confidence and courage.”

I would have to agree with Seminoff. My 16-year-old daughter just got her learner’s license. I noticed driving with her how easy her transition time was. Instincts and reflexes developed over years of powersports created a responsible and skilled driver. She was used to anticipating dangers and practised defensive driving immediately. She simply respects the power of the motorized vehicle.

Reaching outside of our community, I’ve found there are common denominators most powersports parents have with each other. Trust is developed at a young age from both the parent and the child. It can be mighty freaky to watch your child scoot through the trees on two wheels. You have to trust that what you’ve taught them will flow through in their decision-making process. They will be responsible and cautious. It can play with every bit of anxiety the brain can muster up. Part of you wants to lock them up in the house in a bubble suit, but the logical side tells you that they are strong, capable people and they can do this!

Children develop a special bond with their parents when they are given the chance to participate in motorized sports. They learn that they must listen to what you’ve told them. There will be bumps and bruises and a certainty of laugher. Love and adventure, combined with epic sunsets, create the best backdrop for parenting in my opinion. 

It can be a financial investment, but I, for one, would rather invest in an adventure with my family than anything else on the planet. 

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