Lucas, who has ADHD and may or may not realize at any given moment that someone is kicking a ball directly at his head, tends to sort of do his own thing most of the time, unless someone redirects him. He really enjoys playing with his shadow and pointing out the clouds that are shaped like fighter-jets. ADHD parents know what I’m talking about. So the Hubs and I are constantly redirecting him; all the time, everywhere we go… including at soccer.
Well, the coach sent us an email asking us not to do that. I mean, he sent the email to ‘everyone,’ but really it was sent to us (Hubs and I) and only us, because we were… kind of the only ones yelling at/cheering for our kid during the game. Which we both thought was super-weird, by the way. At one point during the game we leaned in toward each other and whispered, “So, um… why are we the only ones yelling?” We must have missed the first memo. Anyway. So I thought the email was passive-aggressive. That’s what I thought, because, at that particular moment, I was riding a broom-stick and cackling like a hyena (PMS, obviously). No one else agreed with my assessment of the situation. Even my husband thought we should just let the coach have his way and keep our mouths shut.
See, Lucas’s coach is one of these more progressive-minded types, the “let-the-kids-figure-it-out-on-their-own” types; you know what I mean, right? Okay, fine. That’s kind of the thing these days. But you know, honestly? I don’t get it. I’m not like that. I think kids need to be told what to do. By definition, kids are immature, and by extension, have no freaking clue what they’re doing. That’s what parents are for. Right? I mean, if kids could raise themselves, they wouldn’t needparents. We could drop them off in the woods like Hansel and Gretel and they would figure out how to kill the witch all by themselves. But Hansel and Gretel were really off-the-charts resourceful; I’d put good money down betting that most kids these days would joyfully eat all the witch’s candy, and would totally end up getting boiled alive in her cauldron. Pretty sure mine would. My poor kids never get candy; they’d think the witch was like the best person EVER.
But it seems like many parents today think they’re not supposed to tell their kids what to do. Like that’s a bad thing to do. And conversely… the kids think their parents have no authority over them. Doesn’t it seem like this would present a challenge at some point?
And yet, there is this laissez-faire ideology permeating the parenting environment lately. What’s more is that these level-headed, soft-spoken parents are so darn confident in themselves! The tranquil, smug looks on their faces make me feel uncertain, anxious, and paranoid. On the one hand, I’m totally irritated that they don’t agree with my brilliant child-rearing methodologies, but at the same time I’m thinking, Oh God, maybe I’m really screwing my kids up by telling them what to do all the time. They make me second-guess everything I say to my kids. Was my voice too loud just then? Was I too harsh? Am I too controlling? Too emotional? I find myself scrambling to say the perfect thing whenever these people are around. Basically, these ‘evolved’ parents make me want to be fake.
The thing is, I’m thinking that these mild-mannered parents are judging me. Actually… I know they are. I’m not generally a paranoid person, but I know a sideways glance when I see one. (“Poor thing, hasn’t evolved to a higher state of consciousness, yet…”) So I feel all judgy-mcjudged, which is COMPLETELY FAIR since I’m obviously judging them right back. I’m even blogging about it for Pete’s sake. God, I suck. But still. I’d like to see them try their laissez-faire tactics on my ADHD kid, and see how well that works out for them. That would be hilarious. I suppose I can admit that if I had a ‘typical’ kid who occasionally considered the consequences of his actions, I might be a little less of a helicopter dictatorcontrolling involved.
Yeah right. Who am I kidding? Oftentimes, the progeny of these hands-off parents run around screaming their brains out, flinging their shirts over their heads and gleefully flopping about in the dirt, while their parents stand there smiling with that placid expression of unconditional acceptance (no seriously; are they on the ganja?)as if running around like a maniac were a cute thing to do. It’s not cute; It’s annoying, and quite frankly… a teensy bit weird.
How are kids supposed to know they’re acting like weirdos if their parents, who love them infinitely, boundlessly, don’t tell them? Haven’t you ever told your kid “Stop doing that, you look like there’s something wrong with you!” No? Just me? Well that’s just freaking great.
I’ve been debating with myself, not only about whether or not I’m doing right by my kids (I wonder that all the time, every second, no matter who’s watching), but also I feel, once again, like I’m trapped in Stepford, where everyone’s lawn is perfect, the children all have high IQs, the dogs never have fleas, and the parents never get angry or raise their voices at the kids. Sometimes it feels like everyone around me is one way, and I am altogether different from everyone else.
What is this place???
What makes me even crazier is that, deep down, I suspect it’s all an act, that everyone raises their voice at their kids at least sometimes, that no one’s life is perfect, no one’s kids are perfect, and dogs have freaking fleas.
It makes me want to climb to the top of the bleachers and scream at everyone to stop being so damn fake, but I know that if I did, the ‘perfect ones’ would only raise their eyebrows at me in pity and put me on their prayer-list at church. People seriously do that stuff.
Do you ever feel like this?  Or, again… is it just me?
Should I be allowed to ‘direct’ my kid at soccer? Or should I just shut up and let the coach have his way? (By the way, I am doing the latter. See how agreeable I can be???) Should I be more hands-off? Do you think kids can figure crap out by themselves? Discuss. (Even if you disagree!)


  1. Ummm…hell no….i yell at my kids on a daily basis….and i feel horrible bc half the time they are just pretending and being silly…but usually while making the most annoying noises possible over and over and over again….and im like “ENOUGH! You are annoying the crap outta me!!” And then i feel bad bc i just stomped all over their innocent fun….but geeeez! The question “are you crazy?? What are you thinking?” Seems to come out quite often as well…..yes, i tell my kids what 2 do all the time….

  2. Anonymous

    I think you are spot on. I also think there is truth on both sides of the argument and the needs of each individual child should dictate the parenting style. I also think this isn’t a perfect world and my last sentence was a bit o kaka. Most of us are just trying to survive. I’d probably be boiled right along with my kids for helping them reach the really good stuff on the roof and then dictating EXACTLY what to eat and when. As for coaches memo’s, I think if the coach is doing a good job and asked respectfully then it should be honored. You can always offer post game suggestions at home. Thanks for writing this. It is nice to know there are other mom’s like me after all!

    • I can honestly say the coach is sweet as pie. And even if I disagree with him, even if I thought he was doing a bad job… I do respect that he’s the coach, and I can live with one season of keeping my mouth shut. (Hopefully.)

  3. You know hon, there comes a point in your adult life where, no matter how nice of a person you are, you have to look around yourself and say, “Fuck ’em if they don’t like it. This isn’t junior high anymore. It’s ok to be different.” Your kid has different needs than theirs, and they way you parent is different. Also, if you take this attitude, it’s actually easier to be friends with those Stepfords, because you’ve announced “I’m different, you’re different, we’re all fine.”

    • You’re completely right. I have noticed that when I’m honest in real life, agreeing to disagree is easier. This blog might be a forum for me to let off steam, but I do have respect for different ways of being, no matter how much I may disagree. 😉

  4. Anonymous

    And I totally agree. But the deal I make with myself is that I won’t try to parent their children, they don’t have the right to judge how I parent mine. I correct my child, almost constantly…welcome to life in the ADHD family. I cheer, I’m a loud and proud mom and I could care less if all the other parents want to stand there and act like they all have a stick up their ass. My children are polite, they are healthy and they are honest. They aren’t regimented in any form, we live life and we have a darn good time doing it. We take our adventures together and we are stronger for it. So no, Momma, you aren’t wrong. Not in the least. And in the long run your kids will thank you for it.

  5. I think most of us do the best we can at parenting, but the only person who knows how to mother my child is me. If I am being quite honest though, I try very hard not to lose my cool in public. I reserve that for home and that is what I want from my children. As far as being loud at sports. You know it baby……..I love to cheer for my kids. My husband is a coach so I try to be respectful of how a coach wants to run a team. Some years we have better coaches than others. I think it is important that a coach understand the differences in children. Perhaps, a polite one-on-one conversation is in order?

    • Yeah… I get the feeling they (coach and wife) don’t want us to cheer at all. And that it’s really not up for debate with them. I guess that’s kind of my issue… I feel like someone is trying to impose their personal belief system onto me, and I’m really not cool with that. But yeah, like you said about the coaching thing – I know it’s not an easy job (and no pay, at that!), which is why I elect to keep my mouth shut. We still cheer for Lucas, but we’re careful not to say anything that sounds like ‘direction.’ Which is really hard for us, actually. I mean, it’s soccer, I can’t say “kick it” “block it” “shoot it” or “steal it”??? … We’re pretty much left with “Go Lucas!” and “Good job!” LOL

  6. An older voice here: I was totally a yeller with my kids. Both my older sister and my best friend from college genuinely were the “never, ever, EVER yell” types with their kids. The results prove entirely inconclusive, though — my daughter is awesome, my son NEVER calls; my sister’s son is a multi-millionaire in his 20s from selling his own software company at 27 while her daughter, until she *finally* met her current wonderful boyfriend, had anorexia and drug problems for years; and my best friend’s older son has no job and lives at home with his girlfriend who she just found out he secretly married a year ago and her younger son is causing endless problems at school. Like I said, totally inconclusive.

    So I have no idea whether yelling makes the slightest bit of difference or not. All I can say is that when I turned my kids over to someone else to coach or teach or direct, I kept my hands off. If I felt the need to make any input, I would make it one-on-one to the coach or teacher, not in a public setting. The only time I would correct anybody else’s kids was (a) if they were (or are) in immediate danger, including total strangers in stores, even if I get yelled at for it (which I have), or (b) if they were in my charge, as, say, their Girl Scout leader. I was lucky that my own kids also warned everybody else, “Our mom is pretty easygoing, but if you push her too hard? Watch out!” and the other kids actually took their advice!

    Cheer your son on at soccer, yes. Direct him, even if he’s ADHD? No, let the coach do it. I’m quite sure the coach has already learned that your son needs extra direction. In the long run you’ll appreciate it, although your blood pressure might spike in the short term.

    There comes a point where we ALL have to loosen our hold on our kids just a little bit, and when someone else in a perfectly normal situation is in charge of our kids for a little while, that’s a good time to start practicing. Even kids with issues. (My daughter has a very rare form of dwarfism, so there were a LOT of situations where I had to bite my tongue and not give input, and you know what? I actually learned some useful things in the process.)

    Sorry this is so long, but you really struck a chord in me with this post!

    • Thank you so much for the honest input. I was waiting for a comment like this… I certainly don’t mind that it was long, and believe me, I take your words to heart! Thanks again! xoxo

    • I’m also a btdt parent, adult sons and now young step-daughters. I argee with above, no one style seems to work. I was (am) a yeller, frequently yelling “no” “not that” “the other way!” in various situations (including sports). My sons probably misbehaved about average,sometimes more than average, but…the were obedient (is that a bad word nowadays?). My step-daughters are very smart, very very well behaved, but their parents rarely give them firm direction, and they can be incredibly disobedient. This makes me crazy, but the fact remains, the majority of the time, they are super well behaved.So, for any of us, we parent the way that feels right, but the results vary. I suppose that the end result of happy well adjusted adults is all we can hope for.

    • You make a good point. I know so many (older) well-educated, seemingly perfect parents who did everything ‘right,’ had two, three, four kids, all whom turned out vastly different. It is a very difficult thing to admit that sometimes, no matter what we do, our children will be one way or the other. There are some things over which we simply have no control. (SO hard for a control-freak like me to say!) Thanks for commenting!

  7. So, I totally yell at my kids when they are doing weird things. BUT…
    My son is involved in tae kwon do, and I have to say, I am pretty hands off during his 30 minute class (like, nose in my smart-phone, resenting the “parent-helper participation required” part, that hands-off!) At the end of the class they play a ball game, like scatterball, with little Nerf balls and everyone running and throwing and trying to be the last one standing. Really, not life-or-death and I do not intervene even when I see my son obnoxiously breaking the rules, hoarding the balls, not sitting when he should…because it is a game and there is an instructor. If he was hard-nosed about it, he would say something (believe me, I have taught classes at the rec center and I say something when the kids do something I find unacceptable, other times…eh, I just ignore it. Pick your battles, right?)
    But ALL the other parents are yelling at their kids, telling them to pay attention, stand up straight, listen to “Sir,” get the ball, throw the ball, and on and on and on…IT DRIVES ME CRAZY!! Now, these kids are 3-6 years old; the class is held at the rec center in town; it is supposed to be fun and educational. And when the parents give instruction, they 1) are usually talking OVER the instructor and completely dividing their child’s attention from him, and 2) what the hell does it matter if the kids are breaking the rules in this game? It only lasts six minutes and then everyone goes home. The purpose of the game is to burn energy and run and have fun. These kids break down and CRY when the parents berate them with telling them what to do and how to play. 🙁
    I also find it completely frustrating when the kids don’t listen to the instructor, but again, this is his class, not mine. He can deal with it in his own way. And, when my son has his own immature moments, we definitely talk after class about how he can improve his behavior and respect. I do think that is a huge part of parenting, reflecting and conversing about what happened and how we can improve.
    I love reading your writing. Honest, raw, and humorous. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment! Now that you mention it, I do think there have been times that I’ve been trying to redirect Lucas and I end up distracting him even more… and which case I’m crawling under the bleachers trying to hide from the coaches and other parents… so… yeah. Point taken. LOL

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  8. I’m going to bring up the ‘B’ word – balance. I think when the kids are REALLY young (like, below the age of 8), yes, they need to be told what to. Gently but firmly. My rational mind tells me that after 8 years of being told the basics, they should be able to figure some things out on their own, but they should never feel like they can’t come to me, or ask me to please hover and helicopter them for a little while until they find their bearings.

    But, my oldest is only 3 and yes, clueless, so I may well be talking out of my backside. 🙂

    • Ah, yes… sweet balance. Applicable to so MANY situations and yet typically… mysteriously… absent. A prevalent challenge these days, isn’t it?

      My boy is six. I hover quite a bit because otherwise, quite frankly, he would just zoom around the house playing with fighter jets if it were up to him. He needs a chart to put his clothes on in the morning, because a speck of dust will distract him. (Literally; I speak from actual experience.)

      I do feel an anxious squeezing in my chest when I anticipate the days that I will have to step back and let him make his own mistakes… and hopefully learn from them. I know you are right – but it’s scary scary scary.

      Thanks so much for commenting, Alison! I adored your last piece about your mom. Heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. You should read my post “Cabinet Slammers and Screamers.” It’s in a similar vein to your mom post.

  9. hahaha omg I have missed reading your blog!! Sorry I’ve been so MIA! I’m a total control freak over anyone so now that I’ve birthed a human and have the ultimate right to dictate her every move, I try to take advantage of that while I still can. Of course, when we go to the playground I usually let her have a free for all, to get all her toddler antics out in one fell swoop. But if she gets too close to the kid swinging, I’m there. Or tries to climb up the slide while a kid is using it properly. Or goes beyond the log perimeter. Or tries to eat some wood chips. Okay, who am I kidding? She NEVER gets to decide for herself. The end.

    • Hahahaha, a girl after my own heart… it will be unspeakably hard, won’t it, when we actually *do* have to let go of the reigns… <3

  10. Anonymous


    By gods do not go the coaches way!

    I may not have my own kids, but I more or less raised my little brother and am now a primary school teacher, so I think I have SOME kind of leg to stand on.

    Those “laid back” parents? They are the scrounge of my life. Thanks to them, I am going quietly mad and significantly less quietly hoarse by the day. The kids those parents raise are belligerent, loud, respect NO authority and generally believe themselves to be the most brilliant beings on the face of this green planet. Nothing I say or do makes them doubt that for a minute.

    I do not think that controlling your kid’s EVERY move is necessary, but PLEASE do set them boundaries. Explain things. Talk with them. BE parents, for god’s sake! That is what you sing up for when you decide to procreate (and one of the reasons why I do not have kids of my own – I do not feel ready to do this again (I had to with my brother)).

    Don’t let them bully You! I might not know You, but from what I’ve read of Your blog, You’re a great mum. Keep up the good work. I’m sure Your son’s teachers will be grateful.


    • That’s exactly what I fear… is that my kid would be a source of irritation for some of our most valued community members, namely: teachers! The thought chills my bones. Teachers have it hard enough, don’t they?

      And yes I know kids whose parents encourage “debate” and “individual thinking” – okay I know there’s a time and a place for that, but really I think at too young of an age this simply equates to disobedience. When I instruct my kids to do something, I darn well expect them to do it, and WITHOUT argument or questioning. I tell them that after they’ve accomplished the assigned task, they can ask questions about it and I will be more than happy to explain. 🙂

  11. Anonymous

    Just yes. How on earth are the little wonders supposed to know that they are being awful if no one says hey you’re being awful and that really makes everyone have a bad day? Our rowhome has too many people in it for that nonsense.

    At the public playground though I’m the Mum who shrugs when her kid is acting crazy but not hurting anyone.

    • More solidarity… ah, this just warms my heart, you have no idea. Balance, balance, balance… (as the other commenter said…)

      Thanks for reading and commenting! (and from across the pond, it looks like?)

    • Anonymous

      Not from across the pond, just multicultural.