When Parents Intervene

As my children grow up, I’m faced with more opportunities to intervene on their behalf.  My natural instinct tells me to pull back and let things play out naturally.

For example, when Luca signed up to play soccer, we didn’t scout teams and setup an interview with the coach. We didn’t research how many of his former players made the high school or college soccer teams.

Doesn’t matter to us. She was six years old at the time.

We allowed the league to place her on a team without interfering. But I’m starting to wonder if we are in the minority. Many parents work behind the scenes to make sure their children are on the teams with their friends or the best athletes or the most experienced coaches.

Doing so when the children are 4-6 years old feels like overkill to me.

I know a women who drove her child to an elementary school outside her boundary line because she didn’t like a teacher. The next year she switched schools again when she didn’t like the principal.

I wonder how many times she’ll bounce her children around from one school to the next because she doesn’t like the basketball coach or the band instructor?

What lesson are these parents teaching their children? Every time you encounter a challenging situation or a person we don’t like, we’ll step in and change it for you?

I don’t plan to orchestrate every detail or outcome of my kids lives. Nor do I think that’s best for them. Sometimes we have to play the hand we’re dealt.

I learned early on that my parents were not going to intervene unless it was absolutely necessary. I did not like my third grade teacher at all. Her name was Mrs. Britain, and she was one angry women. She carried a yardstick around the classroom and was not afraid to use it. During recess one day, I ran home and demanded my mom yank me out of her class and put me in the other third grade class.

My mother listened to my complaint before walking me back to school. But she didn’t storm the principal’s office demanding a teacher swap. She didn’t make a scene with Mrs. Britain, nor did she yell at me in front of my friends.

She walked me to entrance of the school and calmly told me to return to class. I’m sure she hugged me goodbye, and I know to this day she cared deeply about my education. But she wasn’t going to intervene because I didn’t hit it off with my teacher.

I want my kids to understand that I will fully support them in their endeavors. But, like my mother did years ago, I won’t intervene or demand special treatment.

We can’t change much of what life throws our way. Although we can select our friends, we can’t always choose our teachers or our boss or our coworkers. Sometimes we have to collaborate with someone we may not choose to interact with outside of the office or classroom.

Looking back, I recognize that many of these experiences resulted in the most growth. I learned to work with many personalities and backgrounds. That’s helped me become a better manager and help further my career.

I never did learn to like Mrs. Britain. But I learned a lot from her. I still remember her showing me how to find the various continents on the globe.

And I still think Greenland shafted.

4 thoughts on “When Parents Intervene

  1. Amen…. It even holds true to simple things like breaking up fights between kids (well we do stop them before bloodshed). If they can't learn to get along with each other and work out their issues, how will they survive in the real world.Thanks for another great post! I really enjoy how you are able to relate things in your past and make them so relevant for today.

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  2. You make some very good points here, Brett. I think the reason parents do intervene besides the simple fact that they are parents is because it is such a competitive world and they want their child to have every advantage. Also some children are not as resilient as others or have special needs and so the parent needs to maximize that child's chance for success.

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  3. I knew a mom who would come to high school to yell at a teacher for her son's missing assignments. She repeatedly came to his rescue whenever he screwed up. I think he's still a cook at the local coffee shop and living at home.

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  4. Stacy, I agree that most of these parents I see probably want their kids to have an advantage. But they can't be there when they go off to their first job or attend their first class in college. There are certain decisions I hope my children will want my input on. But there are others they need to learn to make and the sooner they can stand on their own two feet the better prepared they will be for the real world.

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