When to Butt In

  1. You are AWESOME. There are a thousand ways that you could have dealt with that situation. It’s never easy as a parent (or a stepparent) to know whether a line is the line you should cross, and if you want to cross it for them or for yourself.

    Bravo, woman. Bravo.

  2. cathyburke says:

    I have been reading your blog since Bruiser was 10 months old. I feel like I am watching him grow up. I think you struck the perfect balance with that email and the fact that the coach responded the way he did proves it. Bruiser is one lucky bear to have you for a mom. You are awesome!

  3. Elaine says:

    Well said. You are my idol!

  4. 3boys says:

    I coached soccer for K, first and second grades. It’s all about having fun at this age. I kept my mouth shut while the kids were on the field. The only thing Brusier needs to learn is how to dribble around another player instead of kicking the ball forward into their legs. Work with him at home by giving him the ball while you stand a few feet in front of the goal and telling him repeatedly to go around you for the goal. Be slow to move from side-to-side to block but don’t try very hard. They don’t need to pass at this age or pay much attention to the coach.

    The parents on some other teams we played had a win-at-all-costs mentality. One team coached their kids to have one player run down by the goal and wait for the ball to be kicked to him because there was no offsides rule in this league. Their coach told me they could do this because there was no rule against it. Sorry coach, you’re wrong! just because there’s not a rule doesn’t make it okay.

    This same team – on another occasion – had a player who knocked my son down to prevent him from scoring a goal. The kid who knocked him down then pretended to fall on him but obviously did it to prevent him from getting up. As the kids teammate ran up to take the ball away my son reached out with his hand to push the ball away and it went into the goal. The parents of the other team began screaming “HANDBALL.” What my son told me later was that the boy wouldn’t get off of him and he was afraid of being kicked with the ball so close to him. When the other boy ran off the field later I heard his mother say she was proud of him.

    One thing I find troubling is that kids have only one chance when they are young to get into a sport and if they don’t it’s too late to catch-up. I’ve been told that starting a sport at 10 or 12 is actually better because they become skilled more quickly at this age. The problem is that the culture of sports doesn’t allow for kids to start late. It’s unbelievable that Bruiser is experiencing this at such a young age. I’m always amazed when people think kids will learn sportsmanship or character from youth sports.

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      I would say MOST of the teams we played this season had coaches who put a kid in front of the goal- The problem is that the referees generally are 12-year-olds who are too afraid (or clueless) to tell the coach that goal tending is not allowed. It’s SO FRUSTRATING. When Dennis was coaching Punky’s team, he would sometimes politely tell the coach– and that, as you can imagine, often went over like a lead balloon!

  5. Kimberly says:

    I needed to hear this. I struggle with these decisions too and I am pretty shy about confrontation (scared of it really) but as a parent I know there will be times I will just have to get over it. I recently faced one of those moments actually. Thanks for writing this!

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      Just trust me when I say that chances are, five years from now you won’t even know the people you’re dealing with today. I look back on my stepdaughters’ junior high and high school years and wonder why I was so worried and nervous about dealing with parents and teachers. I don’t see or socialize with ANY of them now. Who cares what they thought of my decisions? This has really helped me judge what to do with my little ones now.

  6. Kathy M. Newman says:

    Very brave and absolutely the right thing! I coached my daughter’s team for two seasons and did a ton of research on what 5 and 6 year olds can understand when it comes to soccer. All the research shows that it’s actually conceptually really hard for kids this age to pass the ball. Anyway, I applaud you for butting in!

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      Thanks, Kathy! Dennis did the same thing when he coached Punky’s team from 3-5. He read a ton of books about coaching small children and he’s had a hard time biting his tongue this season!

  7. Andi says:

    Once again-you nailed it. As a mom, I think we all have that inner mother bear & every now & again it’s important to let it show. I was so impressed with your letter, I hope if I ever have to handle a situation of that sort I can be half as articulate.

  8. Humama says:

    The timing of this column is prescient. I am going through issues with my teenage son. He is of average intelligence but has an extraordinarily difficult time “reading” the nonverbal messages, meanings, and body language that comprise the majority of how we communicate. I hate getting involved for the same reasons you mention, but when I don’t, he often gets overlooked in favor of kids that don’t have the problems he has. Thank you for showing me a good example of how to be assertive without being aggressive or overly-personalizing the situation. By sharing your experience, you have done a good deed today as far as I am concerned. Thank you!

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      At some point when I was dithering over how awkward it was going to be to confront the coach (whom I’ve known as an acquaintance for years), I realized that this was a defining moment for me as Bruiser’s mom, and that I might as well get used to awkward moments now, since there are sure to be more of them! I will always weigh each situation carefully before I get involved, but I do want to be ready to go whenever the occasion calls for it.

  9. This is why I come back to your blog day after day. You always know what issues a mom really worries about. This is an issue I have been grappling with since we moved to a new town. Thank you for the courage 🙂

  10. erika says:

    mamma bear for the win!

  11. Melinda Stubblefield Hughey says:

    Well played Mama Bear!

  12. babybloomr says:

    Love this, love you.

  13. Clint Brewer says:

    Amen, Lindsay. As another soccer parent, I have been there, done that and have the T-shirt. It’s one of the reasons I had to start coaching, to keep my kids away from bozo, over-competitive soccer dads. Great post.

  14. Aileen says:

    I love this post, go Mama Bear, go!!! We need more mamas like you. Thanks for this post, it is so important.

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      I really felt like I needed to share this to let other parents know they’re not alone when they choose to speak out on behalf of their kids. Even though the act often feels very, very lonely.

      I also think that sleeping on it before acting is a really good idea! I wrote the e-mail the same day and heavily edited it the next morning before sending- The original wasn’t quite so… polite. 😉

  15. Melissa says:

    Bam, girl! That was incredibly well-handled. Stern yet polite. I’ll bookmark this for future reference.

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      Great- I was hoping it might help parents compose letters in the future. 🙂 I would have liked to see someone else’s before I sent mine!

  16. Robyn says:

    I absolutely LOVE this letter. I had a similar experience in my son’s first year of soccer, same deal with the coach’s kid (who TO THIS DAY has landed on his hockey team and ball hockey team, and who we can’t seem to get away from!) — and I just hate that it took away all his confidence. Although he played one more year of soccer, he never got past feeling less than the other kids, no matter what I say to the contrary. That coach and his son took away the fun for him, and that uncertainty has followed him to every other sport, which makes me incredibly sad. He’s six years old. Way too early to be dealing with idiots like them. So happy that Bruiser got out unscathed and that you shouldered it for him.

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      Ugh. That sucks. Dennis read a study that said 80% of kids drop out of sports by age 12, and a large number of them do so because a coach or teammates made them feel like they weren’t good enough. Reading that really changed the way he coached.

      • Modfrugal says:

        …And that’s exactly what has happened to us. Our middle schooler can’t play any sports just for fun. There aren’t purely recreational sports anywhere anymore. It’s all competitive, especially as they get older. We are starting to see the same problems with my 9 year old’s soccer team. Other kids ridiculing him if he makes a mistake on the sidelines. I don’t give it long before he too is out of all sports and it breaks my heart. Good for you for not letting it happen to your son.

  17. Megan Flowers says:

    You are THE BEST. Thank you for the inspiration.

  18. Miss B says:

    You are a super mom! Without your intervention, Bruiser, and probably a few of his teammates, might have formed an incorrect conclusion at age six that he’s (or they’re) not an athlete, but now he (they) will have the opportunity and confidence to stay active. That is a pretty big deal when you consider the big picture. You also did that coach a big favor and made him a better coach and dad. I am also proud of him for acknowledging his actions and genuinely considering how he behaves. It’s not easy to admit our mistakes, but he did. I think that says a lot for his character. Kudos to both of you!

  19. sally says:

    Good for you and even better for Bruiser!

  20. Jamie S says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I have been coaching 4/5soccer for 4 years and it is by far my favorite age group. Managing the expectations of parents AND sometimes other coaches has been the most difficult part of coaching. I’ve found that when I am able to educate the parents about what is age appropriate, encourage them to have patience, and remind them the true value of sports at this age the season is more successful. When parents and coaches understand the true skills being learned at age five (listening skills, not hitting their friends,taking direction from someone other than mom/dad, enjoying excersize, motor skills) their focus changes. I’m glad that you stepped in as a parent, I often find myself gently “stepping in” to remind parents of the positive changes I see when they get a little critical. It’s important that we all work to remember that they are FIVE, and values like hard work, teamwork, fairness, and fun are more important than winning and goals at any age.

  21. Tee says:

    Check out st. Bart’s soccer league off Hilsboro rd..we had a similar experience in the league you are playing in and are sooooooo much happier. I wish I had sent an email though to the coach when it happened to us. Way to go!

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