FOCUS ON THE FAMILY with Jim Daly and Dr. Juli Slattery
Q: My son is playing Little League baseball this summer, and it’s great — except for the other parents. They’re caustic and rude to one another, to the umpire, and even to the kids on the opposing team. Should I take my son out of this toxic environment?
Jim: Summer baseball is one of the greatest joys a boy can experience, and it would be a shame if you had to deprive him of that, especially as the result of someone else’s bad behavior!
Nevertheless, I know what you’re talking about. My biological father was all but absent from my life, but one day he actually did show up at one of my Little League games. There was only one problem — he was drunk. While the other parents cheered for their kids, my dad was loud and obnoxious. His speech was slurred. He cursed the umpire. He screamed and made an utter spectacle of himself. I was humiliated and embarrassed.
But as you know from firsthand experience, more and more parents are behaving this way at sporting events even when they’re perfectly sober! They may have good intentions. They may think they’re encouraging their kids. But if they’re being rude, disrespectful or belligerent, they’re doing more harm than good. And they’re setting a horrible example for every child on the field.
Rather than taking your son out of Little League, you might encourage him to just persevere — to practice good sportsmanship and take the high ground even when the adults are acting like bullies. Your own calm demeanor in this setting will make a huge impact on him. It’s certainly sad that Little League can’t be a simple, fun experience for everyone. But at least you can redeem the time by turning it into a character-building experience.
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family, host of the Focus on the Family radio program, and a husband and father of two.
Dr. Juli Slattery is a licensed psychologist, co-host of Focus on the Family, author of several books, and a wife and mother of three.
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