Have you ever spent time with an attention grabber? You know what an attention grabber is, don’t you? It’s the person who has to be first, has to be the center of attention, or has to be the dominant voice in a conversation. I’m sure as an adult you been to a party or function where there was a person always trying to top the story of the next person. You know who I’m talking about, right? You can have the greatest story ever, you’re so excited to tell your story, and then Mr. Attention Grabber has to tell everyone that his situation or his story is more important and exciting than your story. Now we chalk that up to a personality disorder or to some poor soul who just desperately needs affirmation from others to feel validated. But when parents are attention grabbers, their lives gets magnified and their children’s lives get minimized. Do you realize the long term effect that can have on your relationship with your kids? Here’s my opinion: The results can go one of two ways. It can develop a child into a quiet, seen-and-not-heard kind of child. Or it can drive your child to aggressively fight for the preeminent place of honor and attention.
I’m sure this fleshes out in a variety of ways. But here’s one scenario: My kids were always involved in sports – youth sports programs – T-Ball, soccer, you name it. My wife and I would laugh about the fact that we didn’t have a calendar of our own as the kids grew up because their calendar of activities became our calendar of activities. I coached one of my son’s soccer teams for several years. You always have the “obligatory” crazy parent. You know the type. The parent who didn’t make it in sports when they were younger and now they are vicariously living out their fantasy of being the greatest youth athlete in history through their own child. Because of that, they are vocal. They are loud. They can be obnoxious. They can second guess any coach…even Vince Lombardi. In fact, Vince doesn’t have anything on them. You know, I can live with that. It’s counter productive. It’s embarrassing, but I can live with that. Chalk it up to immaturity.
What is difficult to understand is when the intensity of parental involvement intersects good sense. Vulgar language, angry parent/coach confrontations, or worse, physical hostilities. I recall one time when our soccer game was about to start, as the team before us finished their game on the field. We were waiting and warming up. Then it happened. We watched a parent come out of the stands, pick up a folding chair and begin to “beat the daylights” out of the official. It was so unsettling that parents pulled their kids from the league immediately. Obviously, at that moment, nobody cared about soccer, nobody was watching kids. All attention was laser focused on a parent… a bad parent… a troubled parent… a soon-to-be arrested parent. Hey mom and dad, try explaining that one to your kids. I think it was the Apostle Paul who said, “Do nothing out of selfishness or vain conceit, but with humility consider others more important than yourself.” That makes for good soccer coaching. That makes for a good life.