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Advice from A Parent

Lessons Learned in Little League

Words Can Hurt

Contrast the advice and support I got from my parents with what one of my teammates had to endure from his parents. They spent the day at the baseball diamond criticizing his performance, most likely continuing the tirade after arriving home, perhaps even sending him to bed without dinner. It isn't hard to imagine the damage such behavior caused to his self-esteem; how he probably began to measure his self worth off the field by his performance on the field. Worse, how he was likely to feel that his parents' love and support was conditioned on his athletic success or failure.

I think you would agree that these are some horrendous lessons to teach a child and can only lead to poor self-image and stunted emotional growth. Let's face it: it really amounts to verbal abuse, one of the most damaging forms of abuse a child can suffer, especially when it comes from his parent. I only wish the kid's parents had realized just how much damage they were causing, not only to their child but to all of us, who were traumatized just from having to witness the pain they were inflicting on him.

Making A Difference

I don't know what became of my teammate; whether he went on to realize his full potential in life or gave up on himself and has been drifting through life. What I do know is that he played a few more seasons and then quit playing baseball altogether. I can't say I blame him. Heck: What kid would want to keep playing under those conditions?

Maybe if his parents had given him three simple rules to follow, had treated him with respect, and had loved him unconditionally, things would have been different. I can only hope that when he has a family of his own, he doesn't make the same mistake his parents made with him.

The final lesson I leave you with is this: you can, and will, make a difference in what your child learns from playing sports. Make the most of it!

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