Your Throw Sucks

Photo of a baseballThis past weekend, a friend posted the following on her Facebook page:

Our house backs up to a baseball field. Today has seen a progression of dads with their sons practicing for baseball season. In the 11:45am slot we have the a-hole dad of the day: “Your throw sucks. Throw the damn ball at my glove.” Waits. Ball passes about 4 inches outside – dad stands still. “You suck.” I can see this kid. He needs some coaching, but he’s strong – if deflated. All I can do not to march across the field and pull him back into my house.

What she witnessed is heartbreaking. Is this representative of all parents? No, thank goodness. But, I bet we’ve all witnessed a parenting put-down or two somewhere in our community: on a playground, in a grocery store, or at a sports event.

This is one intersection between parenting and leadership that I wish didn’t exist. Leaders can also use put-downs, publicly or privately, to humiliate or embarrass someone.

The problem is that put-downs rarely lead to improved performance. Criticism needs to be constructive, delivered in a way that gives the person a clue about what to do differently and the confidence that they can get there.

And what about my friend? She says she’s going to buy a bullhorn to give positive encouragement to the kids: “Stop telling your kid he sucks!”, “How about a little positive encouragement?”, “He takes after his father.” I don’t think she’s serious, but she definitely made me smile just thinking about her goal to change the world, one parent at a time.


Image courtesy of hin255 /

© 2014 by Karen Catlin. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “Your Throw Sucks

  1. Being kind in criticism goes both ways, especially publicly. Public criticism from parent to the kid conducted in a harsh manner is disruptive as much as kid criticizing the parent in the same way publicly. I believe the way feedback is given is very much tied to what we think we are entitled to. The dad probably thought it was his right to yell at his kid, his kid may think of yelling at him in public too just to make him look bad. I have seen many a tamper tantrums from kids in public. This is where parenting and leadership differs a bit. No parent can disown the kid if they are being criticized harshly in public (the same is for the kid about the parent), however there are political etiquettes in place for employment. You may kiss that job goodbye by providing even positive criticism to your manager in public in many companies. The consequences are different for a parent and a manager, however. Positive criticism works in both situations, however how you deliver/where you deliver it makes it quite different in parenting vs. employment.

    1. Good points, Umit. The consequences can be quite different within a family and within a company. Thank you for expanding on my blog post. I appreciate your comments!

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