Talking Points: Some Parents Need a Time Out

Angry parents acting out in front of their children is the subject of this evening's Talking Points memo.

In El Paso, Texas, parents have to sit through a three and a half-hour class on appropriate fan behavior if they want their kids to play city-sponsored youth sports. That's how out of control things are in America this spring.

All over the country, dopey parents are yelling at umpires and referees, threatening coaches and chastising their own children while watching kids' sporting events. The National Alliance for Youth Sports reports that 15 percent of all games are marred by some kind of verbal or physical abuse from parents. That's up five percent just five years ago.

I played organized baseball for 14 years beginning in 1958 and ending in semi-pro ball. I only saw one incident of parental foolishness in all that time. Some guy ordered his pitcher son to throw at me after I had hit a triple off the kid. That man was ejected from the field by the umpire.

So what has changed in three decades? Well, the answer is the growing sense of entitlement that some American parents feel. I think we all know people who allow their children to intrude on others. You see it all the time in restaurants and at the movies, the urchins running wild while the parents sit there like stumps. If little Dylan wants to terrorize everybody around him, hey, that's fine.

That sense of entitlement extends itself ferociously into the competitive arena. If a child loses the game or doesn't get enough playing time, some parents can't handle it. They become agitated and mean-spirited. Of course, their kids see this kind of behavior and many of them emulate it.

Talking Points knows that many parents today are living their own lives through their kids. Their ego is tied in with Liam and Sally. That is extremely destructive for the child and absolute idiocy for the parent. Putting pressure on kids to perform well when they should be having fun is flat out wrong. There have always been demented adults who coach kid teams and think they are Vince Lombardi. I ran up against these guys all the time. But hectoring your children and others from the sidelines is simply insane. If you're doing that, stop it immediately.

Parents who go to every practice, every game, every recital, every play date are overdoing it. Let your kid develop a sense of independence. Let the child have some fun without you looking over his shoulder. Life is tough and kids need to develop coping skills. If they see their parents acting foolish, that will hurt them. Think about your children rather than yourself. You want them to be happy, back off and you'll both grow up more effectively.

And that's the memo.

Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Rumors persist that Bill Clinton will do a TV talk program, possibly for CNN. Nothing has been confirmed, and it may be nonsense. But Mr. Clinton could pull it off. He's glib and shallow and has got the hair, just like many TV types.

So we've come up with a few good titles, in case Mr. Clinton gets into the game: Temptation White House, The X-Files: Starring Bill Clinton, Bill Clinton Blue, Just Impeach Me, and Law and Order: Special Interns Unit.

Those titles might be ridiculous, and then again, hey, if you're going to do it, you can use them, Mr. President.

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