Sometimes Fathers Fail

[New York, New Haven and Hartford Locomotive No. 321 crash through roundhouse]

She is only eight years-old and I fear I might have failed her. I am her father and though I know I am human and fallible I feel like I fell down on the job.

Those who know me well understand how seriously I take my role as father and that when I say I would take the bullet for my children it is not hyperbole.

You cannot mess with my kids without finding yourself on the wrong side of my smile. The thousand yard stare comes out, the vein on my forehead becomes more pronounced and my fingers start flexing.

They call me dad and they expect me to take care of them because it is what I do.


The moment that haunts my present happened at the season end soccer party. Our girls were called forward by their coaches and one by one they were presented with a trophy and some words that were supposed to compliment and encourage them.

Each girl walked up wearing a huge smile that only grew broader as the coaches praised them for their efforts and skill.

This was the third team party with these coaches and this team. It wasn’t as they say our “first rodeo” which is part of why I didn’t expect the head coach to single out my girl and talk about how she is a “tough cookie who needs to work on her game.”

Those weren’t the exact words, but it is very close.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and I waited for him to circle back and soften the words. I expected him to say something that would make her smile and feel good…but he didn’t.


She didn’t react. She is a tough cookie and I know she is stronger in the most important ways than most of the girls she plays with.

That is not why she plays. I didn’t sign her up to live vicariously through her triumphs nor to commiserate in the losses.

At eight she is supposed to learn how to play the game so that she can learn how to be part of a team and more importantly to play because she loves it.

Those last three words are huge- “She loves it.”

I won’t let anyone beat that love out of her.

She has heard me say that she is going to determine how far she goes in soccer and in life. Those aren’t just words to me. I believe in them.


Her tears hurt me and I ached for her.

I took the coach aside and calmly asked him to tell me what his intentions were for her and the team.

He thanked me for my candor and shared his plans and his impression of my daughter. I listened carefully and what I heard was the voice of man whose perception of reality is far different than my own.

One of my jobs as a father is to teach my kids how to deal with adversity. They need to learn what to do if they fail because we all do. They need to figure out how to bounce back and how to survive the rough moments.

Part of me immediately saw this as a great teaching moment and an opportunity to learn. Part of my saw a chance for growth but there was another part that wondered if this is the time to do it.

Life requires us to toughen up, but is now the time. Is this really the place to push her and will she get a fair shot.

The advantage of his skewed perception is that she doesn’t have to exhibit much improvement for it to look like a dramatic increase in her skill level.

But she has to want this. She has to fight for her place. They just added several new players to the team.

If she isn’t willing to fight she won’t get much playing time.


I am torn.

There are few things I enjoy more than going after a challenge and destroying it. If it was me I would take great pleasure in working hard to make him eat his words so that he felt foolish for doubting me.

But that is me.

This is about her.

I want her to want it. I want her to make that decision.
But she is eight and I wonder how hard to push or not push. My gut says that if I just pull her from the team she will be furious with me and she may not see the big picture.

It might be worth letting her play through the spring season. She told me that is what she wants to do.

Maybe I let things play out. Maybe I let my girl take my hand and lead the way. Maybe I make a deal with her that if she does that we will spend more time together practicing.

Maybe that is the right balance.

The risk is that it blows up. The risk is that it doesn’t work out well at all and she comes away angry and upset.

I am supposed to protect her but I can’t wrap her up in bubble wrap to keep her safe from all that could hurt or harm her.

The world doesn’t work that way.


My children are on vacation this entire week. Thanksgiving break has hit so they are on vacation and decisions don’t have to be made yet, hard or easy.

The house is filled with laughter and there are many smiles floating around here, mine included.

But I would be lying if I said that a piece of me didn’t hurt and that I didn’t feel like I have fallen short.

We’ll all get through this and we’ll work it out, but damn I wish it didn’t have to be so freaking hard.

It is a game and games should be fun.

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  1. Ginny Marie November 22, 2012 at 10:42 am

    My daughter is 8, and I would absolutely ache for her if this happened to us.

  2. Louise Ducote November 22, 2012 at 4:58 am

    Jack, my life is youth baseball and the kid who’s the deepest into it has been playing since he was six, now almost eleven. When they’re EIGHT it should be all about fun, all about the joy of moving their bodies and celebrating what they do right and well, and about sportsmanship of course. There should be no negatives whatsoever. As they get older and the ones who are just in it for fun start to drop out or do other things, the ones who remain are more serious and then the coaches can start really working on honing skills and demanding more. Also, if this is rec soccer as opposed to select soccer, he’s definitely out of line. Just two cents from a longtime baseball mama!

    • Jack November 22, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      Hi Louise,

      It is crazy. My oldest started playing ball about eight years ago so I have been a coach, team parent and just the father on the sidelines. I have seen a lot of things but never anything like this, not to say it doesn’t happen but we have been lucky enough to miss it.

      The more I think about this the angrier I get because it really should be about fun and the love of the game. This is just silly.

  3. Sarah Park November 22, 2012 at 12:20 am

    That was so rude of the coach to tell nasty and discouraging words to your daughter. At eight years old, your kid should be given encouraging words to keep struggling and strive for excellence. As a parent myself, I perfectly understand your sentiments Jack.

    • Jack November 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm

      Hi Sarah,

      Thank you. It really was a ridiculous and obnoxious move on his part. We’ll make it into a learning experience, just wish it could have waited.

  4. MizYank November 21, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Oh, i feel you on this one. I’m merely an aunt but I watch my niece and nephew’s games on pins and needles every time, worrying about whether a coach will, with no malice intended, make some comment that strips them of their simple joy for the pursuit, whether it’s soccer, swimming, piano, whatever. Despite my lack of parenting experience I feel confident in asserting that you’re not a failure. Or if you are because your ability to protect your kids is limited, I’m afraid you’re in a very large club. Has to be one of the toughest things about parenting, and perhaps one of the reasons I’ve never done it.

    • Jack November 22, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      Hi MizYank,

      It is a wonderful club to be a part of but all of the comments about it being the hardest/best job we have ever had is true. It is great, but the hard moments are extra painful.

      You know, it is one thing when things happen to us but another when it happens to our kids.

      I have seen moments during games where coaches have made comments that were questionable and having been a coach I may have done so myself. It is a challenge.

      I just hope my daughter feels supported.

  5. Azara November 21, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    When I read your post, I was furious with that coach and my heart hurt for your daughter – and for you having to sit there and see your child being belittled. As I was reading through the comments, it struck me that I will need to toughen up as a parent too, because these things are going to happen as my kids get older. I think you handled the situation perfectly, and I’m glad you said something to the coach. While I don’t believe in telling children they’re all #1 when some are obviously more skilled than others, a public presentation at a team celebration (for eight year olds!!) was so not the time that I can’t imagine what that coach was thinking. Disgusting.

    • Jack November 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      Hi Azara,

      Sometimes other parents are the biggest challenge to raising healthy and well adjusted children. Their desire to push their children and to sometimes live vicariously through their accomplishments makes some things very challenging.

      My daughter’s story isn’t as abnormal or unusual as it should be. Kind of a sad statement to make, but true.

      Either way it is still disgusting.

  6. A Morning Grouch November 21, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Oh geez, EIGHT! Sounds so young, and yet….I remember how serious everything seemed at that age and how certain players were already rising to the top. That’s tough. But, it sounds like you can’t fail her – you aren’t failing her, because you are supporting her and clearly you love the girl to death. You can’t save her from some heartache (don’t you wish you could?!) though, and it sounds like this is the beginning of her growing up.

    • Jack November 22, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      Hi AMG,

      It is funny to look back sometimes because I also remember what it was like to be eight and how badly I wanted to be one of the best on every team I played on.

      I think you are right here, this is a lesson that comes with growing up, but I hate it.

  7. shannon November 21, 2012 at 11:12 am

    I’m looking for the part where you failed her. At eight this should be about fun. Too much pressure. Her coach sounds like he needs to be working with older kids. Gah, let kids be kids.

    You did good.

    (You may want to consider changing what your spam box says to make it more obvious for your slower readers [me]. When I comment here it takes me a minute to figure out which box to check.)

    • Jack November 22, 2012 at 12:18 am

      Hi Shannon,

      I am big on letting kids be kids. They grow up far too quickly under any circumstances and now it feels like we rush them through childhood faster than need be.

      I’ll take a look at the spam box. Sorry about the confusion.

  8. Dilovely November 21, 2012 at 10:42 am

    SO hard, walking the line between bubble-wrap and too-tough love. And even harder to see your child cry. But I missed something – where did you fail as a father? I see no such thing in this scenario.

    • Jack November 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm

      Hi Dilovely,

      It is a tight rope we walk on and there is no visible safety net. Statistics show that people survive and thrive in all sorts of situations so I know we all will too.

      That was just a moment where I wished I could do it all again.

  9. Bill Dameron November 21, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Jack, It’s tough to be a father and love your kids so much! You want everything in the world to go right for them. You want the world to love your kids as much as you do. Something tells me that everything is going to be OK. That she will go back to soccer and this will be a distant memory. Enjoy your holiday!

    • Jack November 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      Hi Bill,

      Yeah, it would be great if I knew everyone loved them like me, but they don’t and I am ok with that. More than anything I want them to be treated decently and given respect. If that happens things should be ok.

      Since we know that won’t always happen we just have to work on learning how to deal with the rough spots when they come.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

  10. thedoseofreality November 21, 2012 at 6:13 am

    It is quite obvious just reading this how much you love your daughter. My gut tells me that she knows this, too. You are not failing her at all, I assure you of that. Anyone who takes the time to think of this and write this is championing his child. Of that I am certain.

    • Jack November 21, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      Sometimes it helps to have a few moments to sort and sift through things. Overall I don’t feel like I failed, but I would be lying if I said I don’t wish I had cut him off. But so it goes..

  11. Kianwi November 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    You haven’t failed her. Failing her would be to not even recognize the dilemma. I don’t have kids, so I can only guess at how much it must hurt when they hurt, but I think you are doing the right thing by letting this play out for now. She knows the situation, but still wants to play, and she knows you have her back. I think that’s good enough for now.

    I hope things work out well for her!

    • Jack November 21, 2012 at 12:45 am

      Hi Kianwi

      I think she knows very well she is loved and that she is supported. It helps somewhat, but doesn’t fix everything. While I have no doubt that we will get through it relatively unscarred it is hard.

      You are right, when the kids hurt, we hurt.

  12. Angela Ryan November 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    This was so heartfelt and touching. This is a tough one. In my personal opinion, at eight, it’s a game and she has to want it. Let her do what she loves. I really appreciated how you emphasized that part of the story — those three words: “she loves it.” I also liked how you talked about perception here and your view vs. the coach’s view. One of my favorite quotes, which you may enjoy, is by the diarist Anais Nin: “We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” This quote and this post tell me that what you are is a very dedicated, caring, loving father. I wish all the best for you and your child.

    • Jack November 21, 2012 at 12:43 am

      Hi Angela,

      That is a great quote and one that I think I may post above my desk,

      At eight she is young enough to have time to figure out what she wants to do. Now is for fun and if she really wants this she can chase it hard, but I don’t want her to lose the love of the game because someone doesn’t get it.

  13. Michelle Longo November 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Wow. That’s such a tough one. Your desire to do the right thing, to protect her yet not shield her completely, to let her grow on her own while still with guidance… You care and in the end that’s what matters most of all, that you’ll love her no matter what happens, what the coach thinks and what she decides to do. You strike me as such a great dad and that’s why I love reading about your family.

    • Jack November 21, 2012 at 12:41 am

      Hi Michelle,

      I am trying hard not to screw these kids up too badly. Most of the time I feel pretty good about things but when moments like these come you just want to tear out your hair.

      It is important to me to make sure my kids learn how to advocate for themselves and grow up to be productive members of society. The trick is teaching them independence without making them feel like they have no support.

  14. Andee Flynn November 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Beautiful post- I love how you took me through it- I felt like I was there with you at that awards ceremony. You are a loving and protective father and your daughter is blessed to have a papa like you. Whatever you do and however you decide to handle it, she will know she is loved.

    • Jack November 21, 2012 at 12:39 am

      Hi Andee,

      Thank you. The ceremony and the incident there just surprised me. It came out of left field and ended as quickly as it started, the moment that is.

      It is a couple of days later and my daughter is still trying to figure it out which irks me, but things happen…

  15. Gina November 20, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    You have the right reasons for wanting her to participate. This competition thing s starting earlier and earlier. Probably didn’t start for Amanda until middle school. High school is brutal. She is so strong minded that we had no choice but to let her rotate where she went with it. She played two sports, and wanted one for the fun of the team (volleyball for which she turned down a college scholarship in the Big Ten) and one (track) was her love and she poured it all out on the line. She picked. Maybe she should guide you and the spring will shed some light. You’ll know what to do but, OUCH, it sure hurts!

    • Jack November 21, 2012 at 12:37 am

      Hi Gina,

      These third grade parents are ridiculous. Makes me a bit crazy to listen to some of them prattle on about how much money they spend on private trainers to try and help their girls.

      All that pressure is going to blow up in some of their faces, but it is not my kid.

      Let’s hear it for strong willed girls. I certainly have one which is part of why coach thought acting like an ass would be useful.

      I am doing my best to make sure she knows she is supported and to help make a decision she can live with.

  16. V-Grrrl November 20, 2012 at 11:24 am

    My son had a terrible teacher in fourth grade–poor in terms of teaching (he was lecturing 9-year-olds and expecting them to take notes like a high school student) and poor in discipline. At one point my son’s desk was moved to the very front of the room, right up against the chalk board. Was this because my son was loud, disruptive, hurting other children, cheating or some other serious offense? No, it was because my son was guilty of “inappropriate pencil sharpening,” as in sharpening his pencil at the wrong time. I kid you not. For this offense my son had to sit against the blackboard for more than a week, BEHIND the teacher, who was lecturing the 9-year-olds in front of him, expecting them to take notes and study from them for the tests which were so long and convoluted, they were nearly impossible to complete in the time alloted or complete correctly because the instructions/formats were awful. Longest Year Ever. No opportunity to switch teachers as we were overseas and he was the only teacher for that grade. Be glad at least your daughter isn’t with Coach AssHat all day, every day with no way to escape. That said, I’ll echo what others have mentioned, this coach doesn’t get to determine how your daughter feels about herself or soccer. When words are unkind or unfair, all of us, adults included, have to learn to let go of them. Easier said than done.

    • Jack November 21, 2012 at 12:33 am

      “inappropriate pencil sharpening,”

      That has officially entered my list of the top ten stupid things teachers do to their students. It had to be challenging dealing with a blockhead like that all year long. I would have had to sew my lips shut.

      We are working with my daughter to help her let go of this crap and to not internalize it. One more piece of innocence gone south and one more step towards the future.

      Not the preferred way of doing things, but so it goes.

  17. Brad Farris ( November 20, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Parenting is a marathon more than it is a sprint (thank God).

    As a result I think the “win” here is to spend the time reflecting on what happened, how you reacted and what other options you might have had. Not so that you will brood about what can’t be changed, but so that you are “studied” for the next opportunity and the next.

    My kids are mostly in high school now. They don’t want me to interfere at all (that doesn’t mean I don’t), so I need to pick my battles. I need to know that it’s worth it to take that stand. Having seen times that I did, and times that I didn’t (and how each turned out) makes it slightly easier now…

    You and your daughter will find a way through. And it’s much more important what you think of her than what the soccer coach thinks about her. It’s sucks, but it’s a chance for both of you to learn.


    • Jack November 20, 2012 at 7:23 pm

      Hi Brad,

      It is absolutely a marathon. I remember when my oldest was born my grandfather looked at me and laughed. “It never ends, you never stop caring and worrying.”

      I can still hear his voice and see his smile.

      Agreed about taking time to evaluate and consider what happened and whether there is a better way to handle it. What makes me feel good is that I feel like given the circumstances there wasn’t much that I could have done better.

      Even though I wanted to shake the coach there wasn’t any advantage in doing so.

      High school sounds like it presents new challenges. We just started dealing those that come with middle school with my oldest, so I am happy to wait for the next set. 😉

      Learning isn’t always fun or easy, but that is ok- it is sometimes necessary. Have a great Thanksgiving.

  18. Patricia November 20, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Parenting is a very tough job and most of us fall on the side of protecting our kids from hurt more than maybe we should. I have a college age kid now and I see in him exactly what I saw in him when he was in little league: when he really loves something, is interested in it, he puts 100 percent into it and succeeds at the highest level. When he doesn’t, he is mediocre.

    The lesson here for parents of smaller kids is allow them to lean toward activities THEY want to do…not what you want them to do. They will find their passions, their talents and feel successful doing them. Maybe soccer is not her thing. Maybe the coach is right to say “the hardest working kids who want it the most will play”. That is the greatest lesson in life. If you want it, you have to work hard to get it. If you don’t, someone else will. Maybe 8 years old is young to learn these lessons. But they learn them nonetheless.

    Maybe the lesson is two fold for parents: there is learning and growth with a skinned knee and we cannot stop all hurt. And secondly, kids need the love and support of parents to help them find their true passions. Allow them to find what is truly theirs.

    • Jack November 20, 2012 at 10:10 am

      Hi Patricia,

      I want to draw your attention to where this took place. It happened at the team party during a trophy ceremony at which the coach said nice things about every player but my daughter.

      It wasn’t during practice or a game. He publicly shamed my daughter and there is no excuse for that.

      I won’t debate her skill level here because none of you can talk about it with first hand knowledge. But I will say that she is not the worst player on the team by a long shot.

      It would be fair to say that I don’t play the political game the other parents do so that might come into play here.

      I am biased here, but it is important to reiterate what happened and where. Time and place are everything. I don’t believe in coddling our children but I don’t believe in destroying their self esteem either.

      • Patricia November 20, 2012 at 10:34 am

        In that context, the coach was a jerk. Believe me your daughter will be the winner in the long run. She was treated unfairly and that always hurts. But your love and support of her is what she will remember and her self-esteem will remain in tact due to that love. Unfortunately she just experienced a tough life lesson that life is often unfair and that it hurts when that happens. My son worked days on a college essay and received an unfair grade. But I couldn’t stop his hurt or change the grade, anymore than I could a hundred times before in his childhood when he thought his efforts were treated unfairly. I had to have faith I taught him how to advocate for himself and do what is necessary to fix it. It starts very young. Not allowing someone else to define her is what will be of value in the long run. Give her lots of hugs and tell her that doing her best is all that matters. I’ve always been careful not to disparage teachers or coaches in front of my kids, even when its a blatant unfairness. But rather to say sometimes they will meet people who aren’t fair and how they handle that is the lesson. It stinks to be singled out. And as an adult, the coach was wrong. Your daughter already knows that. Kids are far smarter than we give them credit. Your only job is to keep her self-worth in tact. You are her guiding light…not the unfair coach. I know the pain stings. You seem to be on the right path. But you have not failed her if you keep putting in her head the recordings that become her life guidance.

        • Jack November 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm

          We are definitely in agreement here. I teach my kids that life isn’t fair and that sometimes things are stacked against us and it is our job to figure out how to manage those situations.

          Life has its moments and this is one of them, but it is up to us to figure out what to make of it.

          I appreciate your comments and hope you continue to visit.

  19. Corina Ramos November 19, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Parenting is never easy. And it’s a tough thing not to let our emotions get the best of us when someone or something hurts our kids. I know one thing, from reading your post I can tell you’re how much you love your daughter.

    Have a great week.

  20. Harleena Singh November 19, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    It surely isn’t easy Jack!

    I can understand what you are undergoing, and with fathers and daughters, such things are so common. More so if your daughter isn’t the kind of person to really share her emotions or hurt easily.

    I guess what might work is a simple hug and letting her know that it will all be well, and don’t lose faith and hope. Keep trying to get better…that’s it. Yes, sometimes it’s easier said than done, and with so many challenges our kids have to face, they need us by their side all the time. I wouldn’t say you have failed as a father because I feel your kids are so lucky to have such a wonderful, caring, and loving father, which sooner or later they will realize.

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Jack November 20, 2012 at 8:13 am

      Hi Harleena,

      It is good to see you. My daughter shares her thoughts with me, but I know she is holding some stuff back. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but I want her to feel comfortable to say anything.

      I am doing the best I can to make her feel loved and supported. Sometimes things go our way and sometimes they don’t. This parenting gig isn’t for the faint of heart. There are moments where it really tests us.

      Thank you again for your comment.

  21. Kristen November 19, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I was a coach for a long time and I honestly don’t see what this guy was trying to accomplish by saying what he did – regardless of your daughter’s age or the level of competition. It seems inappropriate in a venue that should be all about celebration and looking ahead. I admire you, though, for airing your concerns and not letting them fester – a good example for your daughter.

    Ugh, my heart goes out to you both. (And I’ll be eager to hear what you and your daughter decide because I know I’ll find myself in some version of your shoes some time down the road and I’d love to learn from your example.)

    • Jack November 20, 2012 at 8:04 am

      Hi Kristen,

      It really made me wonder what is intentions are/were. I have been a coach and I have been a teacher and am quite familiar with making presentations in which I have to say something nice about individual players/students.

      What he did was wrong and I called him on it but not in the manner I wanted to. I tempered my response because I didn’t want to burn any bridges. My daughter’s best friend is on the team and she is friends with several other girls.

      So while I wanted to pull his lower lip over his head I couldn’t be that expressive in my displeasure.

      It irks me, but there is a political component here too but that is not so unusual. I see these things at school and in all sorts of extra curricular activities.

      Right now the plan is to play another season with this team and see how it goes. I think we have reached a point where we will probably want to go a different direction but if we play it out it should help.

      The idea is that it gives my daughter a chance to feel like she is a part of the process here. She wants to do it and thinks she can show everyone she is capable. So I’ll do my best to help her manage it and we’ll see what happens.

  22. FlutePrayer November 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    My heart breaks for you both. Your daughter is so fortunate to have such a loving, caring, supportive father protecting her heart. Having said that, I want to rip the coach’s face off…

  23. Larks ( November 19, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Man, that’s tough. I always wonder why coaches like that decided to coach sports for young children. If you’re a super-intense, hard core, all about winning kinda guy then great: go find a high school varsity team that’s hell bent on winning state or something. Steer clear of the 8 year olds. But they don’t. It’s crazy to me how many of those kind of coaches exist in children’s sports.

    FWIW I think you’re doing the right thing in letting your daughter lead the way. If she really loves sports unfortunately she’s going to to come across some real assholes. Given a dad like you has her back I’m sure she’ll figure out how to navigate the shark filled waters.

    • Jack November 20, 2012 at 7:36 am

      Hi Larks,

      In this particular situation it is not just him. Some of it comes from other parents who have funny ideas about how skilled their children are and consequently think if they push they might have the next Mia Hamm.

      Appreciate the support. I feel confident about the plan we came up with but it sucks to have to see her deal with moronic behavior like this at such a young age.

  24. IASoupMama November 19, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    My son is 7 and decided he wanted to try AYSO soccer instead of Parks & Rec this year. We told him going in that it would be more competitive than his other teams. We were fortunate that the coach was really good about making it a team effort, because my kid really was the worst one playing. They got lots of play time, though because it’s 5-on-5 and there were only 5 kids on the team.

    • Jack November 20, 2012 at 12:54 am

      Overall I have been very happy with AYSO. I played in it as a kid and now all of my kids have been a part of it.

      My daughter isn’t right now, but she may end up there again. I like the philosophy and overall have had good experiences with the coaches there.

      Playing time is so valuable. It is part of how you improve and it is a big part of what makes the kids feel good about the sport.

  25. November 19, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I am circling a similar situation with a science teacher who calls the kids who have recieved a D or F on a test to his desk and tells them to get it signed. He does so in front of the entire class and refuses to accept that he is humiliating them. He just says they should take better notes and that the other kids don’t know what their grade was unless they tell them. He is an ass, but those exist and my daughter does not test well. She never has regardless of how much she studies. I’ve tried suggesting to him that he is doing more damage than good but he doesn’t want to hear it. In the end you have to accept that not every teacher/coach has the kids best interest at heart. Their ego is just too big. At eight I would tell her that the coach handled that situation in an unkind way regardless of his intentions. Then I’d give her the choice to play for him or not. Just let her know that you can’t always get around people like that. Sometimes you have to plow right past them. Your daughter sounds like the sort that can do it. I hear she’s pretty tough and so is her dad.

    • Jack November 20, 2012 at 12:51 am

      Hi Bridget,

      I would run roughshod all over that teacher. I don’t know if it would change anything, but I would feel better. 😉

      Actually that is part of what makes all of this so damn hard The work involved in trying to give our kids what they need and to not cause trouble when we are trying to help is hard.

      That teacher you talked about makes me so damn angry. It is just such a ridiculous way to try to motivate people.

  26. Geoff Livingston November 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I think Kaarina nailed it on the head. She has to want to do this. She will run into other people, but you shouldn’t force her, and its great that you are there, thinking this through, being supportive. I know I have similar issues with my own daughter, even at two, and saying no to things, etc. Thanks for this thoughtful post.

    • Jack November 20, 2012 at 12:49 am

      Hi Geoff,

      Yeah, we are in agreement here. She is 8 and I want her to be a kid. She is going to have plenty of time to learn how to deal with jerks and hard situations so I don’t see a reason to push her here unless she wants to go for it.

      There is nothing better and nothing harder than being a parent. Just trying to figure it all out as I go without screwing up my kids too badly in the process. 😉

  27. Kaarina Dillabough November 19, 2012 at 11:47 am

    You are so wise to be considering this. Having coached athletes for the better part of my life, I know when a child is playing for “the love of the game”, the sense of accomplishment and the fun, and I know when they’re playing for their parents. My gentle suggestion? Ask her what she really wants to do…and let her do it. Let her know (as I know you do) that she’s supported no matter what she chooses. And also…I always suggest to parents that, if their child says they don’t want to continue, ask: “what would you prefer to do instead? What else will make you happy, give you a sense of accomplishment more than (soccer) will?”

    I find that, by helping the child figure out what they WANT to do, rather than what they DON’T want to do, we really help them find their own path. My two cents (Canadian at that) FWIW. Cheers! Kaarina

    • Jack November 20, 2012 at 12:46 am

      Hi Kaarina,

      I like your advice and not just because it is in line with my thoughts. If the goal is to teach our children how to get along without us then we need to give them the tools.

      She needs to be involved because she wants it. I understand much of what is going on here and I see the push from some circles to be a competitive team. This isn’t just about having fun for some people, so it might be time to consider switching anyway.

      But I need my daughter to feel confident about what we do so talking to her about this is important. Just wish it wasn’t going down like this.

  28. Christie November 19, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Whoa. This is tough. Your girl is so lucky to have you. There are no easy answers. I love how you support her.

    • Jack November 20, 2012 at 12:42 am

      Hi Christie,

      I had good role models. My parents were firm, but I never worried about whether they supported me.

      It was important to me to make sure my children felt the same way. They’ll have time to question my decisions and to wonder what the hell is wrong with me the way all kids do about their parents.

      But if things go the way I want they will understand that I always have their back, especially during the tough moments.

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