I had heard of helicopter parents but this was a new one for me. Then I thought about it and, while I had never heard the term, I certainly have seen the phenomenon!
Lawnmower parents go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face any kind of struggle, adversity or failure.
Instead of preparing their children for challenges, they mow down any and all obstacles so their kids will never experience them, ever.
These parents certainly love their kids but in creating a dream world where challenges do not exist they are setting their kids up for a real shock. In the softball world we see this all the time. Players who shut down at the first indication that they may fail. And in our game, failure is part of the fun, right?
We see players who are not at all equipped to face the difficult things that the game of fastpitch softball is going to throw at them. But when you think of it, the reason we want our kids in sports to begin with is to allow them to learn how to overcome challenges. They need to learn coping mechanisms when they are kids so they are prepared for the real-life challenges that are waiting for them when they go to college and into the real world.
So, what does a player with no experience with failure do when the game gets hard:
Blame their coach
Blame their teammates
Blame the umpire
Ask their parents to intervene to solve the problem for them
In extreme cases, develop addictions, mental problems and just plain make themselves unhappy.
Parents, I understand you want your kids to be happy. But false happiness that you create for your child isn’t real happiness, is it?
You signed them up for softball so they could learn to deal with failure. Let them!
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.