FEATURE: The Car Ride Home (Part Two)
Alumni contributor and published author Mark Maguire has for a long time been interested in exploring the relationship between budding young baseball athletes and well-meaning parents who – in seeking to do the very best by their son or daughter – so often find themselves evaluating their own role and the advice that they might reasonably provide in the familial connection.
Mark has kindly provided us with a series of brief, provoking anecdotes that may or may not reflect elements of the exchanges between baseball parents and their children as all parties learn and hopefully grow together.
Following is Part Two of six instalments of "The Car Ride Home".
The car ride home is an experience that helps define a parent/child relationship. Here are six topics that have helped me improve myself, understand my son better and allow him to challenge himself to be the best athlete he can. This is your second ride sitting in the backseat of my car listening in on our relationship. And if you’re wondering… yes, he did agree to everything written.
2. Why you need to keep your opinions to yourself.
Opinions. Everybody has one, two, or a lot to share. You may not think you’ve got strong adamant opinions; you may not think you blurt them out; you may think you have your tongue under control. You may even think, so what, I’m entitled to my opinion and I’m free to express it…
I’m driving my son home from a baseball game and I ask him,
“What did the coach say afterwards to the team? Did he bring up some of the same old stuff again?”
“Yeah he did,” my son said, “and he also challenged me to yell out to the other outfielders to whether they should go back or come in on the fly balls.”
“You always yell out,” I said.
“Yep, that’s what I always do,” he said.
“Did you say anything to the coach?”
“No, I just accepted it because he brought it up in front of the team and I wasn’t going to be defensive back to him.”
This is where I stated my opinion:
“The coach should have asked you first whether you call out or not and then say something after he heard your answer.”
My son said nothing.
And this is where I really stated my opinion and blurted out something derogative:
“Rookie coach error.” I muttered.
I knew it the moment I said it this would not be helpful to my son. He hears enough conflicting information from various coaches at different levels without me confusing the issue more. This wasn’t fair to my son and it certainly wasn’t fair to his coach. I could learn a few things off my son by keeping my mouth shut as he did.
He didn’t let his disagreement with the coach affect him. He didn’t like it, however, he got it off his chest with me. And that was the end of it for him.
Not me. No way. I had to say something in response—something not helpful. I even thought for a moment to bring the issue up with the coach. I would have been calm and collected. But I was about to become one of those parents.
What I should have said to my son at the time was, if you disagree strongly about the issue being raised by the coach then perhaps you can talk quietly with him about it during the week. If you, however, feel neither here nor there about it, well done, you’ve taken it on the chin and you can move on.
I spoke to him the next day and apologised for my arrogant opinion of the coach. The coach deserves every respect and honour; he gives up a tremendous amount of his time and energy to manage the team to the best of his ability.
No one is excused from the responsibility of monitoring our personal opinions. We can freely give them but are they constructive or destructive? Are our opinions beneficial or belittling?
(You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss your experience or dilemma. I’m always open to learning something new and I’m always open to giving time and thought to help)