Some parents are still looking to fulfill their childhood dreams by living through their children. For these people winning is everything and losing isn’t an option.
These parents pursue an illusion that maybe they can still find success through their children’s hard work. They search for shortcuts to happiness and feel they can’t miss out on that last opportunity to succeed, forgetting there are no quick fixes in life.
Let’s take a closer look at the competitive parent and the origins of their competitiveness. I’ll also expand on what our community can do going forward and why it’s important to let kids be kids.
The Competitive Parent
Many parents view their children as an extension of themselves and this leads them trying to mold their children into what they used to be as a child. But often children develop different personalities and interests than their parents.
Parents should understand when their child don’t have the same drive to win as they do they shouldn’t push them harder screaming and hollering at the referees and constantly telling the coach how to coach their child.
These actions can be very confusing and frustrating for the child, and may send him or her into depression and/or isolation. A child may grow to resent the parent if all the parent care about is winning.
We have all seen the videos of parents fighting at little league games. This is the result of three or four competitive parents at the same game.
I can recall in my coaching days having to discipline a young man on the importance of being a team player. There’s so much that can be learned by playing team sports especially the fundamentals of life. Instead of embracing this aspect this particular kid went to get his father who threatened to punch me!
I calmly told the man, “I will gladly take that punch if it will teach your child sportsmanship and discipline.” Believe me I know from experience how some parents over-react.
A Sense of Loss as a Child
Many parents aren’t aware that this drive may be motivated by a sense of loss of their childhood. Perhaps they were told they couldn’t play football because they were too slow, or in the case of girls maybe they were advised to pursue another career because they were too heavy to model.
Sometimes it’s just a self-belief that they have. But it’s something that needs addressed if the obsession to succeed through children is ever going to stop.
It saddened me when I found out there isn’t an age limit for little girls to enter a beauty pageants. To me that’s a form of abuse. Think about what the child may be going through. Would you want your child to blame you for wasting their childhood on something that they did not want to do?
Molding your child to fit your image can be damaging to the parent/child relationship now and into the future. Parents must acknowledge how much it hurts to miss out on the dreams they valued as a child and move on.
Right to Have Their Own Dreams and Happiness
Children have imaginations and dreams and are entitled to them. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 11:9, “Be happy, young man, while you are young and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth”.
When kids feel pressured to do good they become rebellious and unhappy. Our role as parents is not to perfect our children, but to foster and development them into healthy, sane, and caring human beings.
Childhood is so short-lived they need to enjoy the most important activity for them: playing and being creative.
What Can We Do?
Coaches, referees, and league authorities need to sit down and discuss how they can deal with these kinds of parents.
I suggest at the beginning of the season having a meeting with all parties on the expectations of parent behavior during games and practices. And if they can’t control themselves then little “Bobby” will be removed from the team.
A co-worker recently told me about a soccer league called the “Quite League”. In this league parents weren’t allowed to talk to coaches or players during the games and the kids loved it!
There will always be irate parents who can’t be stopped, however; we can create and enforce guidelines in order for our children to truly enjoy sporting events.
So as a whole let’s get back to the basics of having fun and promoting a loving family atmosphere. Ask yourself what is more important to you, your child being successful in recreational activities or successful in life?