It was supposed to be the kids from Forrest Park against the kids from Union City in a little league football game. When it was all said and done, it ended up just being a bunch of grown ups fighting each other while some kids watched and others tried to get involved. It was yet another example of how adults who still want to act like children are severely harming the actual children.
It’s popular to criticize each new generation of kids. Generation X was supposed to be lazy and apathetic. The Millennials are often branded as overprotected and clueless. But no one ever seems to take a step back and ask themselves how these labels stuck in the first place. That’s because doing so would involve the hard work of looking in the mirror and realizing that overprotected kids come from overprotective parents.
A bad generation doesn’t just happen. It is grown from the soil of the previous generation. We can’t throw it all on the Millennials. None of us is without excuse.
If parents cared half as much about training their young boys to be men or their young girls to be women as they do about chasing that ever elusive college scholarship, our culture would be almost unrecognizable as compared to its current state.
I’ve seen parents yell obscene things at their own kids during games. I’ve seen parents yell rude comments to other kids during games. And I’ve had to break up fights between parents while their young athletes stood by and watched.
I have a prediction. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t think that I am. Years from now, some of those same kids as well as some of the kids from Forrest Park and Union City who had to watch their parents fight each other will end up on the late local news for doing something stupid. As the police are hauling them away, the reporter will interview the now fully grown child’s mother or father who will say the following.
“I don’t know what happened. I guess he just fell in with the wrong crowd.”
Sadly, those parents will never once consider that perhaps their child is the wrong crowd. And they certainly won’t give any attention to the possibility that they were too.
There is more to parenting that taxiing kids to and from sporting events, piano recitals, and school. Parenting is shaping kids into adults. That’s hard to do when the ones called to do that act like kids. But parenting is still about more than shaping kids. It’s also about self-examination. It requires courage to work on areas where you are weak, humility to admit when you are wrong, and integrity to stand for what’s right but inconvenient.
We do our kids much more good when we fight against our own shortcomings than we do when we fight against the coach or the parents on the other team. We are much better parents when we teach our children how to get back up when they fail than we do when we make a big noise and wield our parental authority to try to fix the failure.
Your son didn’t make the baseball team?
Guess what that means.
He wasn’t good enough.
I’ve yet to meet a coach who kept a really talented player off of his team just for spite. So save the long, rambling e-mail to the coach or school about the alleged injustice done to your kid and either help him to improve his game or introduce him to a new sport. There are better ways to fight for the good of your child.
Husbands, love your wives and wives, love your husbands.Your kids need it.
Take some time to unplug, slow down, and eat a meal together as a family. More valuable, life-long lessons can be learned at the kitchen table than on an athletic field.
Talk to each other.
Model and teach service.
All of this requires a fight. But, unlike the ones we’re seeing all too often on little league fields, this one is a worthy battle.
It might be next week or it might be ten years from now but at some point your son’s fastball or your daughter’s dribbling abilities won’t matter. There’s even a chance that they already don’t matter as much to them as they do to you.
Parents, the next time things get a little heated during one of your kid’s competitions, play the long game. Think about ten years from now. Think about eternity. Be a peacemaker instead of a brawler. Whichever option you choose, your kids will remember it.
Just don’t be surprised when they follow in your footsteps.