4 Signs That You are NOT a Desperate Sports Parent

By Janis Meredith | Posted 9/18/2019

If you’ve never had a day as a parent when you’re at your wit’s end and don’t know how to deal with your young athlete, then you haven’t experienced the tired desperation that causes you resort to parenting tactics that you later regret.

 Let’s be honest, we ALL have days of quiet or not-so-quiet parental desperation. That just comes with the parenting territory, but that’s not the desperation I’m referring to above.

No, the type of desperation I’m talking about is the type that permeates all of your parenting behaviors and shows itself very distinctly. This is usually seen when your child plays sports or struggles in school, not living up to what you had hoped or expected.

Based on the dictionary, “desperation” can be…

  • Reckless or dangerous because of despair, hopelessness, or urgency
  • Leaving little hope; extremely bad
  • Extreme or excessive


Unfortunately, most sports parents don’t recognize their own desperation. They think they’re just coping as best as they can to make it through each season.

But desperate parents are those who’ve given up on what they know deep down is the right way to do things, instead caving to the pressures and demands of youth sports, looking for quick satisfaction.

So, the question remains: are YOU a desperate sports parent, willing to grab the quickest fix for the challenges that your children present to you? As you let that question marinate in your mind, here are some things to look for in the mirror that indicate you haven’t fallen into the sink hole of desperate sports parenting:

1. You stop yourself from always fixing your kids.

Helplessness is perhaps one of the worst feelings that a parent can have. No mom or dad likes to just watch their children suffer or struggle. The urge to jump in, fix it and make things all better is a parental instinct.

As kids grow, they run into more and more situations that could use some parental “fixing”— not enough playing time, troubles with teammates and coaches, stress from juggling sports and school work. Desperate sports parents give in to the urge to fix things because they think it’s the only answer.

Parents who don’t practice desperate parenting know that “fixing” their child’s problem is giving in to immediate reactions and will not be good for their child in the long run.

Non-desperate parents work with their child to find a resolution, or better yet, encourage their child to solve the problem on their own.

2. You’ve learned to slow down instead of jumping to conclusions.

Unfortunately, jumping to conclusions is sometimes the only exercise that parents get.

The inclination to assume something is true before all the facts are in is a sure sign of desperate parenting. Desperate parents want a quick explanation and don’t take the time to hear the whole story from their kids, not taking the time to really understand.

The news you receive is often not nearly as bad as you’d assumed at first. If it is as bad, then it’s even more important for parents to get the full story so they know best how to help their child through the situation.

However, sometimes it’s just easier to reach a conclusion, decide on a quick “resolution” and move on. Desperate parents are desperate for time and are often too busy to slow down and investigate a bit.

3. You listen…a lot.

Desperate sports parents talk a lot. They lecture, nag and don’t listen much because true active listening takes time and effort. Desperate parents don’t have the time or the patience for that, so they resort to something that comes easily to them—talking.

This is not healthy communication, but it is desperation.

Healthy communication is a two-way street and should always start with listening first. Ask open-ended questions, listen, ask some more, listen some more and repeat what was said so that your child knows you are listening.

Once your child knows that they have been clearly heard, then you most likely will have an opportunity to share your perspective and you will be heard. From 31 years of parental experience, I’ve learned that nagging and lecturing are wasted words.

4. You are learning to let go of controlling your kids.

I started learning to let go when our kids were younger and their involvement in sports presented me many opportunities to practice.

Desperate parents feel the need to control for a variety of reasons. In sports, it may be because they want to see their kids succeed and get frustrated when they don’t. But learning to let go is one of the best ways you can love your kids. As the old saying goes: If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever.

Do you feel that you’ve slipped into the desperate parenting mode? If you are seeing these four signs, then the good news is that you have not!

Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.