Sports dads and daughters….why are some sports dads so hard on their athlete daughters?
A sports parent asks:
My husband is so hard on my daughter in her sports. He wants to push her and help her, but it just seems like he is being too hard on her. How can I help with this?
I know this one. I have two daughters who played sports from a very young age. To make matters worse, my husband is a coach and that adds tension to the issue.
I think there’s a lot of layers to the sports dads’ and daughter’s problem. Dad wants his girl to be a stud, to be the star. Dad wants his girl to show some aggression. Dad wants his girl to drive the ball to the hoop every time (how else will she rack up the points?).
Sometimes it just seems that Dad wants his girl to fight like a boy.
How can you help him loosen up?
Well, you know that you can’t change your husband. He’s gonna have to do that on his own. But you can probably ease the situation a bit with these suggestions:
- Don’t take sides. Then it becomes even stickier. Parents split in their views only confuse the child.
- Be positive with your daughter, no matter what your husband does. Praise her efforts, no matter if they meet your husband’s standards or not.
- Away from the heat of competition, maybe over a relaxed dinner, have a heart-to-heart with your husband. Without accusations, maybe some gentle questioning, What are your expectations for Sally? What are her expectations for herself, do you think? What if they are not the same as yours? What should you do about that? How can you best help her to reach her goals?
- Encourage your husband to sit with you in the stands and not stalk the sidelines or coach from the bleachers. If necessary, distract him! Send him to the snack bar or get him talking with other dads.
- If your daughter is frustrated, encourage an understanding conversation between the two of them. Let them work it out.
- And if the opportunity presents itself, share with your daughter that her dad loves her very much and only wants the best for her, even if he doesn’t always express it in the calmest ways.
- If your daughter sees her need for improvement in skills or conditioning, get someone other than Dad to help and coach her. Either her own coach, maybe an older athlete (relative or friend), someone who can remain totally objective.
Whatever happens, you remain calm. Stay out of the fray sports dads’ and daughters’ fray.
I remember one game when my oldest daughter was in 8th grade playing on a softball team coached by her dad. It was late afternoon, the sun was setting, and she was playing catcher.
At one point, the sun was shining right in her eyes and she was struggling with seeing the ball. Her dad-coach said something to her and she yelled “I can’t see!” Then ensued a verbal argument between the two of them, her crying and yelling and the entire stands watching. All I could do was get up from the bleachers and walk away. It was downright embarrassing.
We laugh about that now. My daughter is 24 and is truly a daddy’s girl. Their relationship was not permanently damaged by that one incident.
Sometimes the very thing that motivates dads to be so hard on their daughters is the very thing that you can be grateful for: Dad is doing it out of love.