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This article will serve as an invaluable resource to those parents struggling through the trauma of their child being cut from their sports team. This can be a very trying time for someone who has put their heart and soul into something, only to have all their hard work dashed when their child didn’t do all those things they were clearly instructed to do, and probably got cut as a direct result.
Before you do anything rash, such as order a full physical and genetic testing for your child to rule out any underlying causes of sports inadequacy, I invite you to follow my 5 easy steps to dealing with this devastating blow to the self-esteem and inner sense of purpose, for the entire family, if not extended family as well.
1. Do Your Research
It is important to make sure for the next time, your child has the most technologically advanced equipment This is not only because that is likely the only reason the other kids beat yours, but also because it ensures you really have a leg up on the poor kids next time. Get the fanciest sticks, balls, tapes, goals, lotions, multivitamins, and protein patches you can get your hands on, and stock pile them so other families will not have access.
Doing extra research into experimental materials, such as contact lenses with puck or soccer ball laser-tracking capabilities, may give your child that extra edge.
Using any one of a number of the Internet’s Family Tree sites may also be helpful in determining if you are somehow related to a member of the coaching staff. If you are, try to bring this up during awkward pauses in the dressing room with him or her.
There are many ways to improve your child’s chances using social media research as well. Get a list of all the people associated with the sports team selection committee, and try to dig up as much dirt as you can. By documenting and mapping out patterns of LIKING on Facebook, determine the hierarchy of the organization, as well as the internal disputes and alliances.
From there it is easier to integrate yourself into the complex social workings of your local community club. Through a system of subtle winks, firm handshakes, bring coffee for everyone, and other creative forms of kissing ass, you may notice your power grow like Tom Cruise in Scientology.
If all else fails, research sports that are somewhat related, or ones that virtually guarantee your child will come out on top, regardless of the cost, or time involved.
2. Start Planning For Next Year
With defeat fresh in their mind, they are probably immediately hungry for the next challenge. Starting an exercise and diet regimen on the day they got cut shows them you mean business. It is an excellent way to show your child the importance of doing what you tell them to do.
Remind them about Rome not being built in a day, as well as the one about the best time to plant a tree. At that point they should be so confused they will not want you to elaborate, and you can get back to sets of burpees.
If they start to balk in any way, it can be helpful to make up a story about how you went through the same thing as a kid, and somehow you found the courage and strength to persevere and become a champion. It can be helpful to have Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’ cued up, for increased believability.
Over the next few days to several months, make sure you relate almost any activity your child is doing back to the sport they got cut from. Give them constant feedback about how they could be gripping their spoon differently, to more effectively power through the soup. Ensure they are maintaining proper posture while on the computer or toilet. Make them stay on the ice long after they lost feeling in their toes. It is the only way to make all those childish little piggies stronger.
3. Be An Advocate For Your Child
A few measly practices is a pretty easy way for any clearly distracted coach to miss your child’s full potential. Well before ever seriously considering enrolling your child in a sport for fun, you should have already been militantly honing their skills. Don’t pat yourself on the back too soon, however, for every parent who actually cares about their child knows practice means nothing, unless it has been videotaped.
Start with a mere 12 hours of video documentation of their skill, as well as several scrapbooks documenting their athletic growth. These will prove invaluable when you visit the coach at their home the day after the cuts. It may be helpful to label the most pertinent sections as ‘Exhibits’, as this will greatly help your case.
For every critique the coach brings up with you, have one or several alibis in the clip. Rehearse your cover stories in the mirror, until they sound believable, and try to keep your story straight. He or she cut your child remember, this person may not have a heart or human feelings.
4. Maintain Your Street Cred
Your child will be looking to you for guidance and support during this soul crushing experience, but don’t let their weakness fool you. Everyone knows that pain is just weakness leaving the body, and your child clearly needs to toughen up a bit.
While there are no studies that actually show this, it just feels right that the best way to handle this with would be the complete avoidance of the subject all together. Look up words that rhyme with the words associated with your child’s sport, and pretend you keep misunderstanding what they are talking about.
Try to make a game of it with yourself, and see how creative you can be at changing the subject, all the while making sure the disappointment is evident in your eyes. This kind of approach really helps your child learn the importance of not only watching the player’s body, but also their eyes, so they won’t get faked out on the field and embarrass you next time.
When you find yourself actually having to leave your house and face people in your neighborhood, over the days and weeks to follow, be cautious, and try to change your appearance slightly. Different hats are helpful, but nothing that would draw too much attention, unless you think it may help you steer the conversation away from shame and defeat.
Avoid your friends at parties the best you can. If that is not possible, it may be wise to shift your peer group over to your musical or artsy fartsy friends, to buy you some time until this shitstorm blows over. If you are really backed into a corner, tell them that your child prefers to pass, instead of shoot, because they were raised with values.
5. Above All Else
Above all else, it is very important to remind your child that you love and support them, no matter what they do.
After you spit that out, it is advisable to babble about something else for a few minutes, forcing yourself to speak in soothing tones, to get your child’s guard down. Once you see that they think you actually forgive them for being a loser, speak from your eyes passive aggressively, with every misguided ounce of your being.
Make sure they realize that if they make the A-Team next year, you will love them even more.
Simon Trepel, MD FRCPC, is a practicing Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, in Winnipeg, Canada. He writes in his spare time about things he knows something about, and occasionally about things he doesn’t.