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.