John F. Russell: Still learning the ins and outs of the parent game
July 18, 2015
Steamboat Springs — As the parent of a 13-year-old soccer player, I've become well-versed in the rights and wrongs of cheering for my daughter's team and what's expected of a parent watching from the sidelines,
I don't always, but most days, I am able to meet most of the requirements set forth by the soccer association. Truth is, those standards are easier to meet than those set forth by my daughter.
Her rules go beyond those of the association, can be changed at any time and are open to interpretation. But in my world, her rules are no less important. Among the things that are frowned upon in her world are cheering, (even if it’s positive) too loudly and using her name at pretty much any point of the game. She has also made it very clear that, under no circumstances, am I to embarrass her in anyway.
My father had a similar philosophy when it came to raising me, and he never tired of telling me that good children should be seen, but not necessarily heard. I read between the lines and understood that, in no case, was I to say something that would embarrass him.
Apparently that advice skipped a generation, and now my daughter offers me the same advice following most of her games. She also likes to remind me that the little voice in my head sometimes carries onto the field, and that, she is quick to point out, is against the parental expectations she has set forth.
The past several years, I've learned and have come to understand her rules and why they are important. I've also learned there are times when any parent can be too critical; we can expect too much, and our support of our children can be a little too loud for their wishes,
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I've also come to see that she makes a pretty good point — after all, I'm a guest along her sideline in this game. My actions and the way I cheer have a huge impact on her enjoyment of the game, and the most important part of any youth sporting event is that the child enjoys what he or she is doing.
Like the expectations the soccer associations in Colorado encourage, most of my daughter's requests make sense. But I'm the first to admit they are not always easy to follow. Like many other parents, there are times I fail to meet the standards, but I'm pretty happy to say I've never been called out (individually) by a referee on the playing field. I'm sorry to say the same can't be said for violations of my daughter's standards. The other day, I actually said her name while praising one of her plays. I know it violated the rules, because I got "the look" as she ran back into position.
I've become very aware of the look the past several years, and I do my best not to get it from her during a game. She has also suggested several times that it might be better if I stood in a nearby parking lot or maybe on the sidelines of another field or anywhere my voice won’t be heard. Despite all the rules I've been forced to learn the past few years, I’m happy my daughter is learning the basics of playing soccer and seems to get better with every game.
My guess is that my lessons will also continue and that many of those lessons will carry off the field. My hope is that I learn them soon enough to avoid having to watch games from the parking lot or some other distant vantage point.