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Are You That Parent on the Sideline?

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Brenda Vester
Written by Brenda Vester

I have to question the value of all our side line chatter? Isn’t it similar to the backseat driving we as parents found so distracting?

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I have to question the value of all our side line chatter? Isn’t it similar to the backseat driving we as parents found so distracting?


My daughter plays in a volley ball club.  We travel to nearby cities to play in big tournaments competing against highly dedicated clubs around the country. It is a wonderful experience for my daughter and is teaching her about teams, competition, winning, losing, confidence and many other important attributes.  It turns out it is a learning experience for me too.

Last month we went to DC for a 3-day event with over 100 teams. The convention center was packed with over 200 volleyball courts.  You can imagine the schedule of playing all day, staying in a hotel room with lots of team interaction and some late nights!

After 3 days of intense playing, the girls were rewarded with the Silver medal.  At 4:00pm we all jumped in the car exhausted and anxious to get home.  It should take about 4-5 hours.  However, we were met with ice and snow all the way home through the mountains.  It was treacherous and took 7 hours to get home, thankfully safe!

With three tired girls in the back and two exhausted mom’s driving and navigating, there were moments we were nervous and scared, and this created some tension. The girls were loud at times and we scolded them as we needed to concentrate.  The girls wanted to tell us how to drive even though they had no experience doing so. They were full of ideas about how to work the windshield wipers better, and how we might want to put on the high beams, change lanes, and to pass that truck.  I found myself frustrated with the commentary and let them know that they don’t understand what this is like and need to be quiet so we can safely get them home.

The next day I was reflecting on the entire weekend and it occurred to me that as the parents watched the girls play volleyball, we all had an opinion.  We all coached from the sidelines.  Each parent with their own style.   Several parents who had coached or played in the past,  had advice for the girls after every play.  They went so far as to let the coach know what she should be doing better with the line up.  There were some who just reprimanded the girls after each match to let them know where they were failing.  I was with a few moms who felt we should be positive and supportive, but even then, we chose what deserved our optimistic cheers.

The girls, being kids, do not have much say in what their parents do. They cannot shush us on the sidelines, after all, we brought them. But I have to question the value of all our side line chatter? Isn’t it similar to the backseat driving we as parents found so distracting?  None of us has played on this team, even if we had been athletes in the past, it is different for each generation. We don’t really know what is best as we are entirely too biased.  The coach is there for a reason and we need to put our faith in the team and the coach. Parents try so hard to control the outcomes for their kids, but is this sideline interference really in the best interest of our kids?  Whose game is it?

There is a fine line in parenting. The balance of knowing when to push and when to pull back and allow your child the space to become who she wants to be and can be. I think majority of the time, our hearts are in the right place, and intentions are good.

However kids deserve our respect when it comes to certain boundaries.  I think the sport they play is one of those areas. Parents can support the process, and be there when asked, but we should not try to own it and control it.  It just sets the child up for harder lessons later.

I know for certain that I will be paying attention to my behavior during future games. I want to be there for my daughter and the team to support their drive for success the way they need.

Who knows, maybe without so much interference, next time they will bring home the gold!

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

I accept that life is full of constant learnings. Working on being a good parent and adjusting the process as I go to give my daughter what she needs.

What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?

I appreciate that I have a growth mindset and can see past what is in front of me. I am working on appreciating how slow my process can be at times.

What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

I am proud of the fact that I still make time to be with my girlfriends from college and have a lot of fun. I dream of being able to help my sister who needs more support as she is confined to a wheelchair giving her the best life she can have.

We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth—we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?

I admire women who seem to be able to keep a schedule with exercising consistently. My schedule changes weekly and that is just part of my nature, and I know I make things harder on myself, but it seems that is just how I roll.

“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!)

Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?

I love that I have high levels of patience for those who I love.

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About the author

Brenda Vester

Brenda Vester

I am passionate about raising awareness for women’s equality & empowerment in the areas of careers, self-development, leadership and parenting. I believe we all have the power to design our lives creating the best environment to become who we want to be.

Professionally, I have spent the past 20 years working in sales, human resources, consulting & speaking within many industries; Retail, Airlines, Public Relations, Energy & Gas, Leadership Development & Career Management. (more detail at linkedin.com\brenda vester)

I also manage a small business, Kabina Publishing. This work encompasses my personal views, creative expression and research around the intersection of work/life and how to design a life you love. My favorite project has been completing my book, Capture Your Power, published in 2009.

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