Monday, April 30, 2012
An open letter to the soccer dad.......
I'm not even sure where to start. Yes, I got there a little late so perhaps you were shouting cheers and kind, encouraging words prior to me plopping down 10 minutes into the game, so if that's the case, well then.... good for you. However, I would like to discuss your behavior that I was there to witness. While you stood next to me and my friends.
On the sidelines.
At 15year old girls.
I realize it was a tough game. No one likes to see a score of 7 or 8 to 0. That's just ugly and not fun for anyone. I'm sure your daughter and her friends were already frustrated with themselves before you even opened up your mouth. But do you HONESTLY think that screaming "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!" to the girls is helpful? Do you think that for one minute, they are PURPOSELY trying to fail? Are you convinced that if you yell a little louder, wave your hands bigger, make your face redder and above all make your tone more humiliating that they will suddenly change their minds and decide to play how you expect them to because they were purposely not before? Do you think for one minute that they are intentionally losing?
Her hero. Her first crush. Her soft spot to land when the world is harsh. Her play-along knight in shining armor as she pretends to be a princess. Her example of her future husband. How she feels about herself and what she is worth in the eyes of a man lies within your power. Your actions, your words, and your TONE OF VOICE will shape her self image in more ways than you can imagine.
I understand the passion. The drive for your children to be the best. The competitiveness that seems to ride high in a lot of us. I get all of that, I really do. Been there. Done that. But somehow my friend, you gotta reign it in. It's one thing to yell at MLB players, NBA stars, even simply the TV - all in the name of a good competition - fair game. Go for it. They are professionals who get paid for it. It's part of their job.
But your children? Leave 'em alone while they are PLAYING A GAME!
Trust me, they are already trying the very hardest that they can. They already know when they have screwed up. They already feel embarrassed for themselves. They already are chastising themselves in their own heads. They don't need you to remind them. They don't need you adding to their own self-criticism and negative talk. Just your tone of voice alone can make her feel like a stupid idiot. And trust me, if she feels that often enough, she will believe it. You want that? Do you realize that every time you ask, "Why did you do that?" "What were you thinking?" "What are you DOING?" you are really just belittling her? Not one of those questions invokes a positive emotion in a child. You might as well just yell out "What the hell is wrong with you, you idiot?" Because unfortunately, that's how those questions come across.
Please remember there is a difference between coaching and humiliating. You were out of line tonight. I pray that it was a one of time instance. I hope that in the car ride home when your daughter sits in the backseat reviewing the evening in her mind, with her tear stained and dejected facial expression, that you look in your rear view mirror, apologize for your tirade and then let her know how much you love her, how proud you are of her, and how grateful you are to be her Daddy. I hope when you pull in the garage and get out of the car, that you wait for her. Hug her. Kiss the top of her head and stroke her hair. Tell her once again how much you love her and that despite of the loss of the game, the fact that she played hard, tried her best, and demonstrated good sportmanship is enough. There will be time later to work on ball handling, kick passing etc. Just not tonight.
I hope you promise yourself to never behave that way again. That you'll remember who you're screaming at and that her self image and her view of men will be molded and shaped by you. You are teaching her how to allow herself to be treated. Please remember that.
It's also important to understand that not everyone gets a trophy. We don't and SHOULDN'T be living in that kind of world. Some are all-stars and some are not. That's just a fact of life, and our society really needs to get away from that "no one's feelings get hurt so we all get a trophy" mentality. I'm in no way advocating that we don't reprimand our children when out they're out of line because we are so busy trying to be their friend. Instead, I'm asking that you remember to coach, encourage, teach and lead all the while remaining the adult who has some self-control.
God entrusted that beautiful girl to your safekeeping. He trusted you to be the one to show her how valuable, worthwhile and cherished she is. Every daughter deserves to be loved and respected, please don't let her down.
the older lady whose heart hurt on the sidelines of a simple little soccer game.