Ain’t He a Mess?
I loved my Dad, but to be honest, he was not the greatest public speaker. As the president of the Ardmore High School Booster Club, he once had to give a short talk at the football post-season banquet. He started with a joke, or at least he thought it was a joke. It wasn’t vulgar or profane, but even by the standards of the 1970s, it was not what you would call politically correct. It dealt with ethnic parents bragging on their kids, and the general idea was something like, “I raised my kids on beans and potatoes, ain’t he wonderful?” “I raised my kids on lasagna and spaghetti, ain’t he wonderful?” The eventual punchline was, “I raised my kids on Milk of Magnesia and Ex-lax, ain’t he a mess?” Dad laughed hysterically at his joke, but it took both of my brothers and me to pull my poor mom out from under the table. To say she was embarrassed would be a slight to the very word, embarrassment.
Being a coach for over 40 years, I have dealt with thousands of parents. There have been several tags attached to the parents of this generation of kids.
Here are a few parental categories:
Helicopter Parents: Hover over their kids, overprotective, over-involved, regularly intervenes to keep their child from experiencing failure.
Bulldozer/Lawnmower Parents: Fulfill their child’s every wish. They plow through all obstacles standing in the way of their child. They want to make sure their child will never struggle or have hard times.
Dud to Stud Parents: Were not great athletes themselves, but have convinced themselves their pitiful gene pool will miraculously create a world-class athlete. They live their lives through the child.
Tiger Parents: Never satisfied with their kid’s accomplishments. Always pushing, pulling, pressuring, and critiquing their child’s performance. Their kid would rather ride the bus home after the game than ride home with their tiger parent.
Prince/Princess Parent: Child is never wrong. Teachers, coaches, and administrators are all idiots. These parents tend to start every conversation with the same two words: “My child….”
Tom Bodet Parent: They will leave the light on as their 14-year-old child comes and goes as he/she pleases. Permissive with little or no rules or restrictions. The “boys will be boys” mentality.
I’m Done Parent: Parents refuse to let their child grow up. They fight every battle for them. They never want their kids to suffer the consequences of their mistakes. When a 12-year-old boy is on the toilet and yells, “I’m done, Mom” so that she can run in there and cleanup, that's an "I’m Done" parent.
Press Agent Parent: Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites have given this parent a platform to trumpet every single achievement of their kid(s). I have a friend (in a state far from here—don’t want to hurt his feelings) that has four kids. According to social media, all four are beautiful, brilliant, athletic, kind, compassionate, and absolute stars at whatever activity they pursue. One of his children struck out with bases loaded, down by one, with two outs in the bottom of the last inning, BUT it was not his child’s fault! It was because the idiot umpire had called two previous strikes on pitches over the player’s head. The poor kid had no chance to be successful because the strike zone had been called so inconsistently the entire game. I have no problem with parents being proud of their kids, but I would like for once to see a parent post on social media, “So proud of my boy, after not studying one second for his math test, the knucklehead made a 49%." For the Press Agent Parent, who is the intended audience? Is it their friends they want to make jealous? Is it the kids themselves? Is it their co-workers?
Here are a few suggestions for parents to consider:
If your child is incredible, look them in the eyes during a quiet moment and tell them. If your child makes a good grade, tell them how proud you are of the work they put in to make the good grade. We continuously remind our coaches to brag on our players for their effort, not their talent.If your child wins a team competition, post on social media how proud you are of the TEAM. Everyone that matters already knows your kid is the star. I think a good ratio would be something like two posts on how great the team is for every one post about how great your kid is.
Tom Brady is the best quarterback alive. How many touchdowns has he thrown on his back? (Offensive Line) How many touchdowns has he caught? (Wide Receivers) How many games has he only thrown passes? (Running Backs) How many times has he intercepted a pass? (Defense) How many last-second field goals has he kicked? (Kickers, Snappers, and Holders) Get the idea? If your child does a good deed, tell them how it makes you feel as a parent to see them show empathy and concern to others. The good feeling they receive from doing the good deed is the reward.
These “suggestions” pertain to parents of kids in the sport of football based on my experience. We tell our team that football is the ultimate team sport. Nobody succeeds in football by themselves. I am always unimpressed when a wide receiver makes a great catch and thumps his chest like, “I did that.” No, YOU didn’t. The line blocked while getting beaten to a pulp, the quarterback stood in the pocket to deliver the ball with bodies whizzing around, and the other receivers ran their proper routes so that you could get open. YOU just did your job in catching the ball--it's what receivers do.
Also, these “suggestions” don’t apply to parents of kids who participate in individual sports. For instance, if your son is the greatest professional disc golfer in the world, it is only right to inform the world of his remarkable achievements. What’s wrong with that?