Dear Coming Through The Rye Staff,
I’ve been playing football since I could walk. Anyways, this year was my first time playing for my high school. I just turned 15 years old. I am one of the only freshman on varsity, and I am starting quarterback. My father is pushing me so much. He will stop at nothing to make sure I’m the best – whether it’s making me get up at 4 AM everyday and running or throwing extra after practice everyday. Also, he never tells me that I’m doing it right. He always tells me what I’m doing wrong. He is worse than my coach. Yesterday, I was really sick (could not stop throwing up), so I missed my game. My dad was so mad at me. Even this morning he was mad, so he made me get up and run a few miles. I’m still sick too. My dad was not always this bad after my older brother decided not to play college ball. He started pushing me. I’m last boy in my family, so I’m the last one. And I guess he just doesn’t want me to screw up, but I don’t think I can keep doing this everyday. Also, he is pushing me to the point where I’m getting sick from it. And my mom just sits there and lets this happen. She says she tried to talk to him, but he won’t budge. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.
Thank you for writing your story to us here at Coming Through The Rye. From reading your letter, I can tell that you’re a mature young man who really wants to work hard to fulfill his father’s high expectations. There a lot of adolescents who would not give a second thought to what their parents want, so I really commend you for that. However, it seems as though your father does not realize how much stress and frustration this has given you. Ideally, every parent wants what’s best for their children and sometimes they become blinded by what their children needs. Your situation is a prime example.
I understand that you have played football ever since you could remember, which means football is of great importance to your father. This might seem like a silly question, but I noticed that you didn’t really mention it: Do you love playing football? Have you always liked it as a child, or was it something you grew to love because it was one of the first things you’ve ever learned? In either case, the real question now is do you still love the sport? Since you’re the only freshmen on the high school varsity team, I can assume that you have a talent for football and for that, I congratulate you because hard work and dedication truly paid off for you. Being great at a sport takes a lot of passion and practice, which you and your dad have undoubtedly perfected through your rigorous routines. However, I think it may be time to have a little chat with your father because you’re now questioning whether you should continue. Practice makes perfect, but like every coach knows, your health needs supersedes above all else. There are days when you cannot predict illnesses so when you’re sick, you have to give yourself (and your muscles) a break. Even professionals have “breaks.” Stress can easily affect your performance, and at the same time how can you enjoy a sport if you’re stressed? I’m not one to play sports, but I strongly believe that playing sports is supposed to be a relaxing activity.
It seems to me that what was once a fun sport has turned into a nightmare because of your father’s persistence to be “more perfect than perfect.” Since your brother decided not to play in college, your father placed all his expectations on his remaining son and that’s a lot of pressure for you. It’s obvious that your father is stubborn when it comes to talking (especially if you had said that your mom tried to no avail) but you will have to be as persistent as he is when it comes to work ethics. I would recommend sitting down with him (it will be hard, I know) and expressing your feelings. It might also be a good time to ask your father about his past time with football. It might give you a good insight into why he’s training you the way that he is and perhaps you could connect with him. I don’t know how close you are with your brother, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask him about his decision not to play in college and maybe the three of you could benefit from that as well. Believe it or not, you CAN guide him to be a better coach. If you still want to continue with the sport, it would be nice if the two of you come up with compromises in your routines.
At the end of the day, the reality remains the same: the decision is ultimately yours to make. You’re old enough to know what you WANT. You’ve played this sport for a very long time, and if your passion disappears there’s a good chance you’ll end up resenting your dad in the future and hating the sport for the rest of your life. If your father decides to not listen, nothing is stopping you from making the decision you may need to make in order for him to realize how unhappy you are. I know what it’s like to try to fulfill the expectations of parents, and it took me a very long time to realize that you can’t make someone else happy…unless you make yourself happy first.
I encourage you to add more to this dialogue.
Catching those before they fall and helping those who have fallen back up,