"The Car Ride Home"
by Mike Bergstrom

A Book Every Parent Should Read


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"An honest account of adult's interaction with their children & youth sports. A perfect short read with a great cup of coffee."  

- Editor of the "Seattle Times"

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Chapter 2
The Referee…All the World is a Critic 

During one particular scrimmage game I was refereeing a parent was really working me and complaining about every call I made. Even calls in his favor caused him to shout out something like’ “You got that one wrong too, but we’ll take it.” As the game went on I began to notice a player on the field who was whining about every foul I called on her team. During a stoppage in play I happened to be standing next to her. I pointed to the man on the sideline who had been riding me the whole game and asked if that was her dad. She said that he was in fact her dad, which came as no surprise to me. After the game, she must have mentioned our conversation to her dad. He approached me and angrily accused me of picking on his daughter because of his actions. I assured him I had not, and then asked him why if he was concerned a ref would penalize his daughter or her team for his actions, would he continue to behave in such a way?


Chapter 4
Meet The Parents 

I wish it wasn’t so hard for so many of us to watch a  game and just cheer, encourage and support. Doesn’t every child who has the courage to step onto the field, court, diamond or rink deserve our support?  For the really gifted players this is not an issue, it all comes so easy. They get cheers and encouragement just by stepping onto the field. What about the less talented players? When they go in the game they are greeted with silence, whispers, head shakes and knowing glances. It must be hard for them knowing that everyone expects them to fail. How painful it must be for their parents, who are forced to sit on the sideline and endure both subtle and often times not so subtle comments and gestures from other parents who have lost perspective. Some moms and dads will only put up with it so long before they pull their kids out of sports. Can we agree that any child’s mere presence on the field requires our respect and support?


Chapter 5
The Internet: A Brave New World

Finally, we need to keep in mind how powerful the written word can be; we need to be very careful how we use it. Nothing can make a person feel better than a quick note just to tell them that we’re thinking of them. Remember in school, how good it made you feel when the teacher took the extra time to put a short note of encouragement on our paper? It meant so much more than just the letter grade. What about when we read negative things about us or more importantly our children? As good as it makes us feel to read the positive stuff it can hurt more to read the negative stuff.We all say things in the heat of the moment we regret, and most of us can forgive and forget something said in an angry moment. Isn't it much harder to forgive and forget things written about us when we know someone has taken the time to sit at their computer, type out their comments, and send them off to a bunch of other people? Who among us hasn't lost our temper at one time or another and said something to our own children that we wish we could take back? Yet, I very seriously doubt any of us would take the time to sit down at our computer, compose an e-mail critical of our own children, and send it off to a list of friends.


Chapter 6
If You Ask Me Sweetheart…. 

Now if your child and their team had a great game and you and your child are all fired up and happy, than by all means talk about the game and celebrate it with them. This can be a great car ride home. It is important that when your child gets in the car feeling really good about the game we need to be sure they get out of the car feeling the same. Too many times children get into their car feeling great about themselves and their team, only to emerge at home thirty minutes later wondering why they play sports at all. Do not allow your frustration with how the team or your child performed turn the car ride home into a thirty minute lecture or silent treatment. Keep in mind, your idea of a successful game might be different from what your child and their coach deem successful. If they get in the car feeling good about themselves and their team just smile and drive. What more could a parent ask for?



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