Ball Fields and Bullying: Perspectives that Give Me Pause

Recently I’ve been part of numerous conversations  in my classes, over coffee with friends,  and on the sidelines at my boys’  games, involving issues related to youth sports, struggle and bullying.  So when I came across these two very different, yet poignant articles on these topics, I felt they were worth sharing.

I found  the articles to be insightful,  thought-provoking,  at times provocative, and pulled me from many different places–just the kind of “gray” feelings that I embrace and dread as a parent–and what mindfulness is all about!

The first article, forwarded to me by a friend, discusses parental roles in youth sports, and is entitled: What Makes A Nightmare Sports Parent — And What Makes A Great One (

A passage that resonated for  me:

“Sports is one of few places in a child’s life where a parent can say, ‘This is your thing’…Athletics is one of the best ways for young people to take risks and deal with failure because the consequences aren’t fatal, they aren’t permanent. We’re talking about a game. So they usually don’t want or need a parent to rescue them when something goes wrong.”

The second article coincides with the release of  both the highly acclaimed documentary “Bully” in selected theaters this weekend, and a special on Cartoon Network about  standing up to bullying.  It’s  from the Wall Street Journal entitled: Stop Panicking About Bullies (

A couple thought-provoking, perhaps provocative, passages:

“Now that schools are peanut-free, latex-free and soda-free, parents, administrators and teachers have got to worry about something. Since most kids now have access to cable TV, the Internet, unlimited talk and texting, college and a world of opportunities that was unimaginable even 20 years ago, it seems that adults have responded by becoming ever more overprotective and thin-skinned.” 

“Our problem isn’t a world where bullies are allowed to run rampant; it’s a world where kids…are convinced that they are powerless victims.” 

Pretty “spicy” stuff, huh?

I invite you to take a read yourself, and please share your wisdom and comments!

Mindful Parenting Playlist Song#13 “The Logical Song” by Supertramp

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  • vmail svsu

    WOW. What insightful articles.  Thank you – I enjoyed them very much.  As a new mother of a 10 month old, it was good for me to see “what not to do” and “what to do” and to appreciate the child’s perspective.  One of the things that bothers me is when I see “adults” think that just because they are older that it automatically means they know better (so not the case and I can attest to this in my own professional experience and career.)  It comes down to listening to our children and respecting our roles as being loving parents towards them.

    I really appreciated the section on FIVE SIGNS OF A NIGHTMARE SPORTS PARENT.  I wanted to address #4 – Undermining the coach.   I had attended a business/self improvement training and this particular subject about your kid’s coach came up (so I’m so glad it was brought up in this article.)  This goes WAY BEYOND just undermining the coach. If we truly want to groom our children for success, this is an absolute “no-no”.  If your child sees and hear you doing this, sees you going against their coach (regardless if you disagree with what they did and the way you are going about telling your child about it) you are teaching them that it is okay to disrespect authority.  This is horrible because you know what ends up happening?  As they get older and go into the workforce, they are now used to undermining authority – they could do it to their boss or manager.  All these things right now on the surface may appear as “Oh it’s just sports or a game” but there are deeper impacts later down the road and those can surface on how they succeed in the workforce.  Even furthermore, it could affect their ability to achieve promotions.  No boss is going to promote the “Know It All” or the employee who is uncooperative because they demonstrated that they couldn’t simply follow directions or always had to “undermine the boss”.  Just something to think about.

    At the end of the day, your child needs you to love them, appreciate their efforts and most of all, remember that this was a fun and enjoyable experience.  Then they want us to be “mommy”/”daddy” and not the raging lunatic driving them back home blasting critiques from the driver’s wheel.


  • vmail svsu

    Thanks Shaila.  Again, brings up lots to discuss.  I keep thinking about the second article about bullying and finally landed on this metaphor….it reminds me of someone saying, “wow, now that all the factories have made it safe so folks don’t get their fingers cut off or their arms mangled, now they want us to stop sexual harassment?  WHAT?  That will create so much paperwork and probably a lot of bogus accusations.”  It actually gets me fired up to think that some think its unnecessary to help our children learn to better handle conflict and better negotiate the world….and to hold accountable those children who are unable to be kind or who choose for whatever reason, to act out so inappropriately.  Maybe their parents have made mistakes, maybe their parents are angels, but without addressing it properly, it won’t stop.  I personally think that parents are overwhelmed, kids aren’t learning to connect or to interact with others in the ways they used to.  Kids are pacified with electronics and don’t know how to negotiate the world and then act it out in school and the schools now have a problem on their hands.  Middle class kids in our country aren’t really give the chance to meet up and test their social skills in an unstructured environment….all the neighborhood play that used to happen and now isn’t in the same way as it used to….I could go on but I think you get what I’m saying.  Thanks for making me think a lot.  And the sports article was great, too.  What a great line to put in your toolkit for your children for years to come.  Great seeing you recently, this is Anne Coyner commenting. 🙂