FEATURE: "Dad, it doesn't matter" (Part 2)
While the capacity to fire up and to “tell things as they are” may in some circumstances be viewed as a desirable trait, it can also cause issues, especially if criticisms or judgments are made in an emotionally-charged situation.
A situation, for instance, in which there might be a clash of ideas between a dissatisfied parent and their son or daughter’s baseball coach.
In Part Two of “Dad, it doesn’t matter”, Alumni contributor Mark Maguire discusses the intrinsic worth of humility and self-control – of having a “sounding board” before unloading on anyone with whom we may be in real or perceived conflict.
Dad! It Doesn’t Matter! (Part 2)
Who you gonna call?
(Warning: there are always issues and solutions I write about that people will disagree with. This blog may be one of them.)
Before you send that email: STOP!
As I type I can’t help not thinking about the lyrics to the theme song from the original Ghostbusters movie. Now that ‘Who you gonna call?’ is planted in your head for the rest of the day I can reassure you not even the Ghostbusters could save you from the mess you’re about to wind up in if you send that message.
What do you do if you’ve blown it and made that call or sent that email? Because I know a lot of people have, whether it be about 3-2-1 or any other matter relating to their child playing in a team. You maybe someone who ‘couldn’t give a stuff.’ You’ve made your point clear. There is now an uncomfortable rift between you and the coach. But who cares, you’ve made your point.
Most parents do care and wish deep down they had of thought through their situation a bit more before accusations and presumptions were made. In our quest to be heard and our fight for fairness, we should’ve asked a few more questions, seeking understanding before being understood.
If you want to clear the air, so to say, and fill the uncomfortable void you’ve now created, then simply apologise. No need for any reasons of why you said or wrote what you did. No need to reiterate your concerns or talk about it with anyone else. A short apology will bring coach and parent together again like nothing has ever come between you. The apology, however, may need to be laid on bit thicker and spread further around to others depending on how far your loose lips or tap dancing fingers spread.
This action takes a large amount of humility and courage. Many can fire up and shoot but not many can clean up the aftermath. The truth is, most disagreements can be overcome with the strength of humility.
And don’t worry if you think your issue will now be forgotten. It won’t be. It will now, however, be seen in a more favourable light.
But what if you’re known to have stirred the pot a few too many times and have a self-seeking reputation. More than likely you feel perfectly justified in what you’ve said or written. But hopefully you’re now realising this sort of behavior is getting you nowhere and—this is where it’s going to hurt you—it affects how your child is perceived as well. I’ve seen kids not picked in a team because the coach doesn’t want the baggage the parents bring with the child.
That’s unfair, you may think. My child shouldn’t be blamed for my behavior. Fair or unfair, the consequences of our actions create a burden and stress for a coach they’re just not willing to carry for another season. The coach that does give a child a chance will either want to avoid that pugnacious parent for the season or in the end regret they even took the child on again.
Here’s a solution for the parent that is known to ‘fire up’. (It’s not going to be enjoyable, and I hope you’re sitting down while reading this.) Don’t say anything for a whole season: no criticism, no complaints, no standing up for fair play… a year of keeping those loose lips shut and that index finger locked up. It will take a year of smiling and being a support. It will kill you.
We think our young athletes have to work hard to excel and enjoy their sport. Show them the example of what a person is like that really wants to have a positive impact.
Mum, Dad, does it matter? This is my tip if you still think it does and you’re about to enter into the uncomfortable world of speaking your mind. A mate once told me about a meeting he had with his boss around the board table with other managers of a large company. My mate spoke his mind and told the boss exactly what he thought of a person and a situation. He told the boss that he wore his heart on his sleeve and says it as it is. The boss took him aside after the meeting and said: it’s called maturity, learning to be discreet and showing self-control with what you say.
Now for the tip before you potentially blow it: call a friend. Call anyone who is not volatile and explosive. Yet, even a volatile and reactionary person can be calm and give stable advice. Call them before it’s too late. Call them and tell them exactly how you’re feeling. You don’t need to see a counselor or psychologist, just call someone you know. They’ll give you balance. You want someone to hear you out. You want your feelings acknowledged. Run it by them. You wont regret it.
Though it eventually doesn’t matter, it does matter right now and you need a sounding board. Firstly, to express everything you’re thinking, and secondly, to gain some balance to your one-sided view of the situation.
The father that rang me (from the previous blog) was highly emotional and his perspective of the 3-2-1 maybe wayward but he kicked a goal when he off-loaded onto me and used me as a sounding board. It wasn’t his intention initially to gain any advice off me, but wisdom prevailed on his part. He was calmer and happier for it.
Parents (and coaches), we all need sounding boards in our lives; someone to ask us questions and not just give us answers; someone who brings clarity to our situation because emotions cloud our perception.
Mum, Dad, if it does matter, there maybe a need to make that difficult call to the coach, but be balanced before hand and self controlled while speaking. However, before you make that call or send that email or text, ask yourself, does this really matter to my child? As much as we desire acknowledgment and fairness for our kids, if it doesn’t matter to them, let it not matter to us.