A Phenomenological Interpretation of the Parent-Child Relationship in Elite Youth Football

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Youth sport parenting research, in psychology, has methodologically prioritized individual level analysis of the behaviors, perceptions, or needs of parents and young athletes. While this has contributed greatly to understanding the role of parents in sport, children’s parenting preferences, and the challenges of parenting in this unique setting, an exploration of parenting in youth sport from a dyadic, interindividual perspective has received far less attention. Accordingly, the purpose of this research was to explore parent’s and children’s experience of their interaction and relationship, in the context of elite youth football. Eight parent-player dyads, recruited from English professional football club youth academies, participated in phenomenological interviews. A two-stage analysis process was performed to explore individual parent and player experiences and examine how accounts related dyadically. Findings present a detailed description and interpretation of the parent-player relationship as one constituted by relations with other family members, an embodied sense of closeness, the temporal significance of football transitions, and gender relations. This research advocates the need for a view of parenting in youth sport that accounts for how interaction is experienced by both parents and children and highlights the importance of conceptualizing parenting as an embodied, temporal process, constituted through interaction and the social context.

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