So you are raising a boy who is a park rat? A “Park Rat” is a kid who skateboards mostly at skate parks and generally hangs out in the skater lifestyle. With so many kids who are watching video games instead of exercising, be thankful that he’s found some way to keep moving.
What do parents need to know about skateboarding? Here are three things to keep in mind.
1. Get a good board.
There are two things that a skateboarding beginner is going to wear out: shoes and boards.
He will wear through his shoes fast between outgrowing them and roughing them up. However, take heart- feet are one of the first things to grow on your boy and one of the first things that stops growing. As far as boards go, don’t go the cheapest route. Cheap boards that you buy in the local variety-goods store tend to break the fastest. Although some board breakage is going to occur, shoot for a good middle-brand of board to begin with. It’s worth a trip to the local skate shop to ask for a “blank” board. Yes, they are used to parents in the shops- don’t worry about going there.
2. Get the basic equipment.
A helmet is a must. Your kid might fight you like crazy, but remind him that his broken brains can’t get repaired. In some places, wearing a helmet is the law anyhow. There is a difference between bicycle and skateboard helmets. You can also get a helmet that is “dual certified” for both if your son needs it.
Usually, a helmet does not need to be replaced with every fall, but if it buckles or cracks, it might be time to replace it.
Other things to consider are elbow, wrist and hand guards. I especially think your son needs a cup (athletic protective shield worn by men) as well. He’ll fight you on that one if he’ll even talk about it at all. You can always refer him to our article over on this site that has some blunt “dude” talk about keeping his “boys” safe. You can usually get equipment in convenient sets for when you are ready to buy. It’s best to buy helmets and cups individually and not in sets.
Skate shoes are typically a shoe that he will only wear for skating. These can be affordable. Amazon has skate shoes for under $25.
(Editor’s Note: Single moms, if you don’t know the right way to buy or for your boy to wear a cup- ask his dad to step in if you can. If that is not an option, consult with one of your son’s sporting uncles. If that doesn’t work- there are many good videos and blogs online about the subject.)
Even with the right equipment, he is still going to fall. When he does that, he is going to get scars. For many skaters, these scars are like getting medals for battle. Don’t be surprised if he’s happy about scarring up his limbs with road rash while he’s learning to skateboard. It’s part of the skater culture.
3. Don’t take his attitude too seriously.
Speaking of culture, some parents worry about the “culture” of skateboarding. There are both polite and obnoxious people in any sport or group. It is just as easy for a boy to be a punk in the science club as it is at the skate park. Boys posture a lot, especially with each other. It’s normal for kids to try on different personalities. The “sk8r” might just be one of the personality masks he’s working on. Most skaters you will meet aren’t bad people. You have the right as a parent to demand respect in your own home. Outside of your direct reach, he is going to act the way he chooses. Be firm in your foundations of respect and courtesy at home and trust that he’ll rely on that foundation in the long run.
We hope these skateboarding tips for parents are helpful for you.