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Carinaponcho's avatar

Is this parenting too harsh?

Asked by Carinaponcho (1369 points ) March 19th, 2013 from iPhone

Today, my history class somehow got onto the topic of kids playing sports. My teacher told us that he said to his daughter “if you want to keep playing lacrosse, you have to get better.” Keep in mind that this girl is eleven years old, not a high schooler who is looking for an athletic scholarship. She was only involved for fun and because my teacher is a lacrosse coach. He justified it as he was giving his daughter the coach, not the dad.
My friends and I were talking about it later, and we all agreed that he was too harsh on her. I know that he wasn’t trying to be outwardly mean, but I don’t think it is right to talk to your daughter like that.
I was this close to going up to him after class and yelling at him for it and telling him that his kids are going to grow up with an overarching feeling of inadequacy and hating themselves. And that they are going to be driven to stop doing the things they enjoy just because you instilled so much self doubt and low self esteem in them. I feel so bad for those poor kids. (He also has a younger son.)
I can relate to this really personally because my stepdad did that to my sister and me because we used to be involved in theater. We weren’t that good but we did it for fun. At one point he said that if we don’t get better then he would stop coming to see our shows. And when I used to play tennis he always made comments about how unathletic we were. I only did it for fun. It’s not like I was trying to be the next tennis star. He just didnt want to spend his money unless I was gonna be great. And plus one of his best friends has these two perfect kids who are amazing at everything and he was always comparing us to them.
I don’t think my Teacher’s justification of “putting on his coach face” is valid. To a fragile eleven year old girl there is no difference. But perhaps I am relating it too closely to my own experiences.

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18 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I agree with you. No one should put that much pressure on an 11 year old. Very few kids will ever be the superstars. But you can learn so much about sportmanship and life playing team sports. Overbearing parents can crush a child’s desire to compete or do theater. It’s the journey that’s key, not the end result.

Carinaponcho's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe You said that much more eloquently than I would. Somebody really needs to explain this to my teacher.

Blondesjon's avatar

Any parenting of any type is too harsh.

Period.

RandomGirl's avatar

@Blondesjon: Care to elaborate? I’m confused.

Carinaponcho's avatar

@Blondesjon what do you mean any type of parenting? Kids need parents for guidance while they are still learning and developing.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Carinaponcho If you want to print that off and drop it on his desk I’m fine with that. Parenting is like trying to push a rope. You can’t. You need to encourage and console, but the child has to make the journey.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

The guy is an impatient asshole. Most kids won’t start to really show their stuff until puberty and until then it is all just fun. I suspect this immature prick is embarrassed by his eleven year old daughter’s performance in front of other adults, especially other coaches (most who in reality don’t care and are able to enjoy watching the kids just have fun). I had a coach like that once and he rode his son into a timid mass of insecurities. Aren’t coaches required to pass a course in childhood development? Or is that just for real teachers?

Ron_C's avatar

My daughters were in a number of activities, swimming, diving, track, and both were cheerleaders. Frankly, I didn’t like the cheer leading because I remembered the cheer leaders from when I was in high school. They were self centered and stuck up. My girls, however, did pretty well. They didn’t change friends or act superior, they made me proud/

I never insisted that they become super competitive and they picked out their own sports. The diving made me nervous and the swim meets hurt my ears. The whole idea was to participate and winning was secondary to them having a good time. I know fathers that pressured their kids and attacked coaches that didn’t cooperate with the loud mouth parents. Fortunately, the coaches put them in their place or had them ejected.

SamandMax's avatar

I remember when I was a kid, back in the early 90s, I used to play some pretty fun games, lemmings and stuff. Along Dad would come, and he would sit down, and tell me how to play these games, or shoot at me for looking at the same card twice or some shit or other. It used to really bug me. Now in my thirties, I sometimes visit, and he’ll watch me play Medieval Total War or something, and try telling me how to attack a defended castle or something and I’ll just do my own damn thing without telling him to shut the hell up.
I don’t agree with the teacher’s method of parenting, but you are wrong to assume that kids suffering that kind of stupidity from their parents (and it is stupidity, because it’s inconsiderate and irresponsible IMO) are going to end up feeling inadequate. It’s still wrong though, I don’t think it’s appropriate, but it could have adverse negative affects without some self-evaluation and a positive mind set from the affected individual.
I could have ended up all inadequate and hating myself, but I didn’t.
It didn’t prolong the inevitable that I would get somewhere good in life, it took me until now to try getting a degree – which I feel comfortable enough in doing without my parents badmouthing me or giving me the same shitty advice about stuff that I can recall from decades ago. If anything, I think there’s a little bitterness involved, but I don’t think I hate myself and I certainly don’t feel inadequate. I think it depends on the life experiences of the child in general that determines how they come out at the other end of childhood.

augustlan's avatar

It seems a tad excessive. I think it’s okay to be honest (in a kind way) with your children about their abilities or lack thereof, but so long as they are happy in the activity, they should be encouraged to enjoy it. I mean, at some point, what he said is true…eventually her level of skill will matter more. But why discourage her at this point?

WestRiverrat's avatar

There is only one pressure I put on kids when they take up extra curricular activities. If they want to sign up they can, but they are there for the whole season.

If they don’t like it they can quit at the end of the season, but they have to give it a fair shot.

whitenoise's avatar

It could be… Would need to know more.

My kids really sucked at some of the sports they did, yet they loved it. We were very proud of them.

They also are participating in one sport that they totally not commited to. They don’t seem to like it and don’t invest in their training. Yet when we ask, they want to stay on the team. It seems their prime reason is that they think it’s cool to be able to say their ‘on that team’.

We told them that being part of a team, they owe the team their efforts in trying to be their best. If they are holding the team back and not try to become better, then they may rightfully lose their place on the team.

Lacrosse is a team sport as well. If your teacher’s child is holding the team back, not truly trying to improve, then she may lose her spot on the team. Her father has all the right to tell her that. At eleven years of age she can reason. It is not the mere fact that your teacher has this message to his daughter, decisive would be the context in which he said it and the way he said it.

girassol's avatar

It seems so to me. My mom never cared much about my extracurricular activities. Studies were very important to her though, so she’d constantly ask us why we didn’t score full marks for a test, or why we couldn’t be ranked higher in class. It made us feel like we weren’t working hard enough, and would never be good enough for her.

JLeslie's avatar

I would need more information. If the daughter wanted to be a part of a team where she needs to try out and her dad can see that she needs to practice more and get better, then maybe it is ok. Possibly it could have been said in a better way.

If his daughter loves doing it for fun, and the parent is threatening to not let his daughter play unless she gets better, then that to me is horrific.

Blueroses's avatar

When I was playing baseball, all of the parents got a lecture on the first day from the coach about not being “that parent”.

Yeah, winning feels good and I’m not in the camp that says “competition is wrong”, but at a young age group, it is about being a team-member and trying your best.

I remember one game we were so far ahead that we felt badly. Our parents started cheering the efforts of our opposition… “Good eye, good eye! Nice swing!” And we didn’t throw the game at all but we cheered them too.

That was a defining moment in my personal development. Seeing how adults and good sportsmen act, no matter what the outcome is true coaching.

ucme's avatar

I don’t see any cause to spew out well worn cliches here, but I see it’s too late for that.
We/you have no idea of the context in which he said that to her or even if his daughter encouraged/agreed with the principle.
A tiny sound bite does not constitute a literal definition of what was said, maybe you’re relating it to yourself as you say. If it is the case that he meant it as it sounds, then he’s clearly a father with his priorities skewed & deserves derision for behaving in such a way, but like I say, context is key.

hearkat's avatar

The statement, “If you want to keep playing [any sport], you’ll have to get better,” can be interpreted a couple ways. My initial reaction was that he was pressuring her, but then I thought to my son’s dreams of playing basketball when he was younger. I didn’t want to dash his dreams, and he is naturally athletic; but I knew it was unlikely that he’d get near 6’ tall, so I pointed out to him that if he wants to be on a High School and maybe a college team, he’d have to work very hard, because the competition is tough. It takes hard work to make dreams come true, especially if one is not physically blessed with attributes that are beneficial to their goals. My son topped-out at 5’ 7”, and he worked hard and played Varsity Freshman through Junior year. By Senior year, his friends were much taller. The work and competition had taken the fun out of it, so he didn’t play that year. He still loves playing pick-up games for fun, though.

So if this teacher/coach’s intention was to indicate that continuing to play on teams as she gets older will require her to have strong skills, he was right – he just might have phrased it better. She’ll have to compete and try-out for teams. Even if he’s the coach, he can’t let his daughter on the team if it’s ‘just for fun’ to her, because the other teammates and their parents will be mad at him playing favorites. If there’s a recreation league in the area, she might still be able to play for fun. But he was just beating realistic with her.

Leanne1986's avatar

I agree with @ucme in that I would have had to have heard it to form an opinion. Yes, it sounds very harsh and if it was said exactly how you felt it was said then he is probably not helping his daughter to enjoy sport regardless of how good she is. However, it may be that she isn’t trying at all and he felt he had to lay it on the line and say that if she wants to carry on then she’d have to show signs that she is actually trying. I have no way of knowing what context it was said in and I am not going to form an opinion on a second hand source.

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