Dear Doctor,

Soccer season is about to begin, and both of our girls will be playing or their father will die. He loves the sport and he adores his daughters.

His problem is the stress he puts on the coach and on them with his behavior. He screams directions from the sidelines, calls out the refs, and does an after game play by play with the girls. They enjoy the sport but are getting irritated with their father. Maybe he will pay attention if someone other than his wife tries to get him to lay off.


Dear Wife,

You have brought up a problem in youth sports, the parents.

I remember sitting in a restaurant with a friend on a Saturday morning. We were having breakfast when four boys and their fathers came in and sat down for their morning snack.

They had come from hockey, and the four dads were reviewing their game. Criticisms were flying, and the kids were bowing their heads in embarrassment over their fathers' remarks.

My friend, a well known town jock, shook his head and said "see how they will someday speak to their sons."

Youth sports are great if they belong to the youth. The first rule is to allow the child a chance to own what he/she is doing. The second rule is to match the child with the sport. For example, a less coordinated child might do better in martial arts, staying away from a team venue.

Sports vary in intensity and physical requirements. Do your best to advise an appropriate one. If it doesn't work out, be flexible and do not push.

Finally, keep your mouth shut except to encourage. This does not mean obscene praise or criticism.

Meanwhile, play ball or whatever.


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