Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Moms In the Stands and Dads on the Sidelines

This is a Guest Post from an esteemed blogger, who writes well and makes sense, so definitely not a typical HTF post...

The orange slices at halftime, the fleet of minivans shuttling players to and from practice, the words of encouragement after a tough loss... yes, little league parents are a big part of their children's games; at least the ones who help make treasured childhood memories.

They may also be the memory their kids would rather forget, such as Mom yelling at the coach to get Junior more playing time. In the last decade or so, little league parents have become notorious for sticking up for their little leaguers to the point where they make the games less enjoyable for the players, the coaches, and the refs. All parents want their children to do well and get a chance to a play (and experience the joys of winning), but it seems there is a gender divide between how each parent handles a child's success -- and failures.

Moms are often the most ferocious advocates for their little athletes, and as a result will shift blame for an athletic shortcoming from lack of ability, skill, or effort to outside forces like injury, stupid coaching, bad plays, or the other team being evil/good/bad, depending on what is most fitting for the situation. Moms like to coddle. They like to make sure their kids are emotionally sound, and by their definition it usually means protected from criticism. Moms try to protect egos and massage bruised ones, and so will tell their children and everyone who wants to listen that their son or daughter had a bad game due to a phantom injury, the coach putting them in during the wrong situation, dirty play from the other team, or a blown call.

Dads also love to blame coaching and reffing, and unfortunately some have taken it to extremes. But rather than simply deflect all the blame on these outside factors, Dads will also put some blame on the kids. Dads can be gruff, realistic, and not averse to a little "character building." Though the refs may get their fair share of verbal abuse during a game, and there will be plenty of grousing about how a coach does not see a little athlete's potential, if a little leaguer has a bad game, a Dad may let them know about it.

Little League parents want to see their children succeed more than anything else, but when they don't, they deal with it in different, often gender specific ways. But at the end of the day, it's just a game, and more than anything else it is joy to see children playing a game and having fun.

J. Gustav is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on forensic psychology schools for Guide to Online Schools.

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