Don’t Try To Save Them

Working with parents can often be delicate. Over-bearing parents. Over-bearing parents can be really tough.

When the child acts out and misbehaves or disturbs the rest of the class in group sessions you sort of expect it, putting it down to the general family environment. Not pleasant but to a certain extent, relatively easy to accept.

What can be really jarring, though, is an over-bearing parent with a seemingly really thoughtful, sensitive and consciencious child. Tooughhhhhhhhhhhhh.

On paper it’s textbook: the “bully” of a parent living vicariously through their offspring. The child, obedient, battles on with a heavy heart. You might hear,

“I wish I could do sessions like this all the time”
Or
“I don’t want to let my Dad down”

Or you might just get silence. Sadness.

You might even get a few tears from time to time in your lessons. It really is hard to watch.

The first reaction is to protect. Although this wanes with age, there is something about a child that exudes innocence. Purity. A defenceless being looking for protection and guidance. 

We, in some ways, as their guardian for the time that we are with them, can provide that. Speaking with the parent about their relationship with their child and the effects it may be having on them or trying to get the child to move counter to the parent can often seem to be a logical step. But don’t do it.

Don’t try to save them

Remember, for the child, their parents are their Gods. All-knowing and all-powerful. If they had to choose between working your way or risking the disdain of their parents, who do you think they’re going to side with? Who do you think is going to win that particular battle?

It seems negative or even fatalistic, I know, but it’s just the way it is. Some children are just destined to be with over-bearing and  demanding parents. We would all like to be Miss Honey and save Matilda but it just doesn’t work like that.

Besides, if we really think about it, the dynamic between parent and child is more or less completely guided by love. They aren’t really bullies. These parents love their children and although sometimes misguided about how best to parent them in a golf setting, I really do believe that they have their best interests at heart. Even though there are cases that you think fall way outside this, it really is often the case.

All we can really therefore do as coaches is to make the child’s experience with golf in our lessons a positive one. That they think of golf fondly. That they smile when they think of this sport. That they look foward to hitting shots and playing with their friends. If just for that one hour per week that session is their escape. Their solace. I’m fine with that.

Sooner or later we’ll probably get the boot, dropped as the parent feels that not enough progress is being made. But that’s ok. We thought what we did was right. From there all we can do is wish them on their merry way, hoping that their relationship stays intact and the scars don’t run too deep.


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