Instead Of Letting Kids Be Kids, Adults Feel The Need To Micromanage Childhood

By Gregory Moore
Updated: October 30, 2006

SAN ANTONIO � The headlines are just so daunting at times.

�Boston school bans tag for fear of lawsuits.� �Parents sue Little League Association over not making every team a �winner�.� �Pop Warner teams to quit league over racial insults.� These are just some of the headlines that I have seen over the years involving parents and kids. It is also one of the reasons why I stopped being a volunteer coach.

It seems that when it comes to kids learning to be kids, adults have the uncanny ability to complicate things beyond measure. Reading these three stories and many others only solidified one affirmation for me about adults and kid sports: the adults love to micro-manage things into the ground.

Think about your childhood and the games you played while at recess. Tag, kickball and dodge ball were all a part of your childhood. How many of you couldn�t wait till PE and dodge ball to take out your frustrations on your friends from the class period before? And did any of you get hurt? What about tag? How fun was it saying �tag you�re it� and then running for dear life as you were being chased?

Sure there may have been some near collisions but did your parents freak out and want to sue the school or school district when you got hurt at school? Of course not. But today�s parents are different. There are many who will micro manage their child�s life like they are trying to run their office.

Instead of letting the kids have fun, these parents put restrictions on what they can or cannot do and thus they stifle the growing process of learning other measures of right from wrong, teamwork and good sportsmanship.

In the case of the Pop Warner story I read, this is once again society becoming too sensitive over past events. Many in society today want to try and overly remedy past egregious errors in racial relations and instead of actually addressing the situation within that organization, many feel it is much easier to leave the organization that offended them and thus actually place the kids in a no-win situation of not being able to deal with adversity.

And that�s the irony about being a kid. Without having to pay a mortgage, worrying about a payroll or do your yearly taxes, kids are allowed to learn how to cope with a variance of situations and ask adults for guidance in making the proper decision.

Except that in today�s world, parents would rather �shield� their loved ones from the realities of being a member of society.

Child safety is paramount in everything we do but there also has to be a chance where kids and parents can both learn how to deal with life�s unfair situations. To micro manage a child�s life because you want to protect them or �shield� them does nothing but to actually harm them later on in life.

Removing childhood games from them is not helping them grow and neither is running from a potentially hostile situation that could be a learning one as well.

If we continue to shield our kids from all of the things that we adults think are harmful, then what will become of their childhood? If we continue to micro manage their lives like we do our own are we really helping them grow to be the leaders of tomorrow?

I don�t know the answer to those questions but I do know that kids need to be kids even if adults don�t think it�s right. Somewhere there has to be a happy medium to where good parenting is just the byproduct of being able to steer kids into positive life situations without having to try and steer their lives in an area that even adults have no answers for when trouble arises.

MERRIMAN�S STEROID WOES STRICTLY HIS PROBLEM If and when Shawn Merriman finally serves his suspension for violating the NFL drug policy, the sports world needs to realize that Merriman is the only who is ultimately held accountable for whatever he put in his body.

It�s also a life lesson since this op/ed started out talking about letting kids be kids. This is one of the life lessons in which micro managing is a good thing for kids who are involved in sports because they look up to professional athletes and will emulate them.

Merriman says that he took a supplement that had the banned substance Nandrolone in it. The San Diego Tribune reported that he is considering dropping his appeal because of the NFL�s policy that players are responsible for what they put in their bodies.

That would be a wise decision on his part because his chances of winning the appeal are very miniscule at best. But when it comes our kids and them playing sports, this life lesson needs to be preached because far too often, athletes will blame everybody for their mishaps or misfortunes and not take responsibility for their own actions.

About a year or so ago I wrote a piece about how high school kids are on steroids and I referenced a case I saw on one of the news magazine shows back then.

And as critical as I am about NBC�s �Friday Night Lights�, I would think that the producers and/or creators surely could conjure up a sub storyline that brought steroids into that show. Why would something like this need to be talked about?

Because right now Texas is amongst the numerous states looking at mandatory drug testing of high school athletes and there are parents who think this is an invasion of their child�s privacy.

The lesson that needs to be taught here is that no matter how old you are, no matter what sport you play, if you are caught cheating, you must deal with the consequences at hand. It would be nice if Floyd Landis simply owned up to the fact that he may have taken a banned substance.

It would have been a lot easier of Justin Gatlin simply realized that he may have been cheating his sport by taking banned substances and that he was not being a good sportsman in competition.

During the time when Lyle Alzado and other in the NFL were doping up with steroids to become faster and bigger, it would have been nice for someone in the union, back then, to lay out the consequences of during such dangerous activity. But those things are the past and the only thing that we can do now is to learn from them.

While I don�t want to pat Merriman on the back for realizing he made a mistake, I don�t want to dehumanize his plight either. While the four-game suspension will be his punishment for breaking a known rule in the NFL, Merriman can turn this around to be a public service announcement to the many kids at the high school and collegiate ranks who think that steroids are the E-train to a professional career.

Right now Merriman is the perfect spokesman who can help others relay the message that cheating isn�t right no matter what level you play at and that as an athlete you are ultimately responsible for what you take.

Hopefully Merriman takes this life lesson to heart and that parents understand why sometimes even a lesson like this is something that needs to be talked about with their own athletes and not something that is hidden away from them.