Why parents of student athletes should be silent:Tips to avoid the cyberbully effect

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

(This is a reprint with some edits from my Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com).

Parents behaving badly on and off-line...These are the adults who are so emotionally invested in the winner/loser outcome of every play and game, they become abusive and manipulative challenging the referee’s calls or dumping rage upon the players because the scrimmage or play was lost. And while these boundary violations are not new, the intensity is heightened with social media.

Parents behaving badly on and off-line…These are the adults who are so emotionally invested in the winner/loser outcome of every play and game, they become abusive and manipulative challenging the referee’s calls or dumping rage upon the players because the scrimmage or play was lost. And while these boundary violations are not new, the intensity is heightened with social media.

It has been referred to by some of the coaches, counselors and educators interviewed over the past 15 years as “hi-jacking” kids’ sports and activities. These are the scenarios wherein parents and some coaches become so involved in children’s sports that they “take it over” with administration of policies and rules to fulfill adult desires on the child’s field of play, and engage in arguments that can ruin the fun and squash learning about the character associated with good sportsmanship, teamwork and camaraderie. These are the adults who are so emotionally invested in the winner/loser outcome of every play and game, they become abusive and manipulative challenging the referee’s calls or dumping rage upon the players because the scrimmage or play was lost. And while these boundary violations are not new, the intensity is heightened with social media.

Columnist Ashley Brown of The News-Times, calls out what she refers to as “a minority of parents” who are posting and tweeting disparaging remarks about the coaches of their child’s Little League or PeeWee Football teams. “I recommend you let the coach handle the team,” she writes. “Your role is to make sure your child is on time for practices, games and any other team event, and once you are there root for the team.”

Role clarification is a beautiful thing, and is easily obscured by misplaced desires to be in control of the successes in your child’s sports and school life. Unchecked, the devices beckon us to let it all hang out – all of the mistakes you witnessed your child’s coach make, and the unfair decisions about who to play and when. In the heat of the moment, broadcasting your dismay is a natural impulse. After all if your child’s sports experience is being sullied by someone who doesn’t care about the children like you do, or who is simply not qualified to coach, why sit by and say nothing?

Two big reasons why parents should be present and silent at sports venues, on and off-line

Communicate confidence in your child. Your child needs to know that you have confidence in him. That you expect her to communicate with the coach and make their best effort to contribute to the overall success of the team. As soon as your child knows or senses that you do not respect the coach, their experience will be tarnished by role conflict. They will be torn between pleasing you or cooperating the coach. This creates a distraction for your child, and can be tormenting – especially if you are tweeting and posting all of your objections. It is a form of cyberbullying.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) This is true for every human being, including young athletes

Allow your child to own the experience. If parents are hovering over a child’s sports experiences, running interference and offering criticisms for how things are going, they will not experience a sense of ownership about their chosen activities. This is the ownership that builds resilience to learn how to deal with disappointments (such as not getting to be in the starting lineup), as well as learning how to handle unfair circumstances (the coach is not giving everyone a chance to shine). The lesson they learn when parents are always commenting and proactively advocating for their child’s success, is that they are not capable of handling the situation and living with the consequences of their choices.

That said, one big reason not to be silent is when you are witnessing abusive behavior on the part of the coach or other adults involved on the field or in the stands. In order to confront inappropriate conduct by adults without creating more drama, do not post or tweet your concerns and objections. Bring the concerns to the people directly involved: the coach and officials and perhaps the parents of other players involved. When your aim is to give people a chance to correct themselves, then the chances are greater that there will be a more peaceful and productive outcome. Berating and bullying people on-line tends to have the opposite impact.

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ABOUT:  Banana Moments Foundation is a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. The BMF mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. To that end, ten percent of all BMF proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your Donations are greatly appreciated.

Joanna Jullien (Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien
(Photo: Christi Benz)

As the Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner, my personal mission is to educate and inspire parents from all walks of life and social settings to realize their inherent authority to govern the home and educate the child about their own power; the personal power that comes from the spiritual resilience of your chosen faithAnd so I write for Examiner.com to express the passion of my mother heart to a diverse audience.

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.

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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna (jullien@surewest.net) and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.

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