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Challenge: Finding Your Voice as a Parent

An Open Letter to Pushy Sports Parents Everywhere

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If your child had a game or a competition this weekend, I bet you witnessed at least one lunatic sports parent in action. These parents can often be found hovering three inches away from the coach’s rear end offering their unsolicited advice. These same parents will call the coach out and try to tell him how to do his job. Some pushy parents even go so far as to berate other parents and bad mouth their child’s teammates and competitors.

Keep in mind, the targets of their malicious words are children.

Just yesterday, I witnessed a parent undermine another child’s victory. This person felt it necessary to compliment the child with one side of his mouth and cut her down with the other. Unfortunately, I wasn’t surprised since I see this happen all the time.


Dear Pushy Sports Parents (you know who you are),

Children need to explore their independence and learn how to live and grow outside of their home. When you step in and try to control everything that happens on the playing field, the only person that is going to get hurt is your child. When your child starts to feel that they are losing control over their athletic life, they will become disinterested in their sport and lose all drive and motivation. Unfortunately, it winds up with your child abandoning the sport that they once loved.

Parents, take a step back. Encourage your child. Give them support. Stop questioning the officials, the judges, the directors, and the coaches. These people are there to make sure your child is safe and treated fairly. I see you hooting and hollering and, frankly, making yourself look like baboons. When your child fails, you take it as a personal blow. You stress unnecessarily over upcoming games, meets, and tournaments. When exceedingly high expectations are constantly placed on your child, eventually they will start to crack. I have seen this happen countless times with my own eyes.

Never claim your child’s achievements as your own. If your dream was to play baseball, score a perfect 10 on balance beam, or score the winning touchdown, then put on the uniform and do it yourself. Your child is not a puppet for you to put on display. Cut the strings.

Please stop comparing your child to their teammates. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Some days what has come easily in the past, needs to be worked harder for. Don’t scope out the playing field to criticize your child’s “competition”. Don’t go around and try to break other children down by dredging up past losses or injuries. Teach your children respect for their peers. Don’t talk down about other children in front of your child. Don’t ever, ever, EVER condone your child talking down to their teammates. It will only come back to bite you in the behind. It will be pretty lonely when no one wants to associate with your child anymore because of their attitude.

Your child performed better than mine? Great. Congratulations on their success. – THEIR success, not yours.

My child scored the winning goal or came in first place? I am glad my child is working hard doing something she loves. Don’t pit my child against yours. They are teammates and they are friends. Do not try to turn them into enemies.

If a child is struggling with a skill he used to excel at, don’t make comments. Sometimes compensating for an injury or even just getting a little taller can set someone’s balance off a little. It is the athlete’s obstacle to overcome, not mine or yours. Do you really need to make a comment, rather loudly, in front of the other parents and coaches?

Stop hovering and stop pushing. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Sit back and enjoy yourself. It is not about who gets there first.Take a step back and let your child figure it out for themselves.

I implore you, for the sake of our children, please stop being so petty. Stop teaching your child that this is an acceptable way to treat their friends.


A Concerned Parent

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