Parents are Ruining It for the Kids

Parents and Kids

If you’ve been reading this blog for the last few years, then you’re no stranger to posts about stress, anxiety and covid overload.

And yet, a couple things have happened recently that are spinning my head around.

First, this article in the NYT, “Health Panel Recommends Anxiety Screening for All Adults Under 65”. Diagnosed anxiety and depression rates are now at over 40% of the population — almost half! So let’s be sure we’re asking everyone, good. But couple this with the reality that there’s a mental health care shortage and…what? We medicate the malaise away? That sounds frighteningly similar to prescriptions of valium to 50s housewives who hate their lives. We have a problem. A big one. And we don’t really have the tools to manage it. Though self-care is my preferred approach to wellness, you can’t self-care away a broken leg, ya know?

Evidence of this problem? Parents are losing it on the ballfields. Every coach and ref will tell you that officiating / coaching is rough today because of the parents. Those who volunteer to facilitate youth games love the sport and the kids, but the parents make their job unbearable.

Last week, on the very same day, I received these two messages:

From my son’s Pop Warner Football team:

There was a story from Kansas that called out the fact that every youth sport is having difficulty finding officials. One of the reasons can be found [in this recent incident] – a head coach outside Boston was upset with a call and berated a referee to the point that the official ejected him from the game. Irate, the coach took a football and whipped it, hitting the ref in the chest. Whether he meant to hit the ref or not is irrelevant. The coach was arrested and charged with assault. 

From my son’s Ice Hockey team:

Apparently there is a parent that is repeatedly parking in the staff parking area and has been asked to move their vehicle multiple times and even worse responds rudely to the staff… If the person who is treating the staff poorly does so again, unfortunately the board will have to step in and determine the best course of action going forward. Unfortunately this will probably be the player/s of the offending parent being suspended from club activities. 

I throw my hands up in the air. I imagine the kids, who are watching as the adults around them are losing it, and unable to manage their stress, are becoming violent with the ref, the staff, and probably many others in their life.

We could all use a good cry and a hug. It’s hard and it’s been harder than we expected and continued to be. There is deep, deep pain. And the sooner we move from anger and violence to the true sadness and pain that’s underneath it, the sooner we can emerge to the pure, ridiculous joy of watching our kids put on their pads, their brave game faces and score on their own goal.

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