A Secret Trick To Keeping Your Sanity At Your Child’s Next Game

Asia Mape
In Balance
By Asia Mape | October 11, 2016

A Secret Trick To Keeping Your Sanity At Your Child’s Next Game

A few weeks ago my 70-year-old mother was in town visiting and I forgot our sun shade during a VERY hot afternoon soccer game. Our only choice was to sit on the outer rim of the field where a tree was kind enough to block out part of the sun. What seemed like a bummer at the time, turned into one of the most important gifts I never could have imagined.


We watched the entire game, as outsiders, set apart from the energy of the parents. And by stepping outside of this sports-parenting ring, an interesting phenomenon occurred. We became observers, detached viewers with no stake in the game. We enjoyed it, but didn’t live and die by it. It removed all of the emotion I typically have during a game. We were safe from the dad who screams incessantly at his daughter, or the parents who always know better than the coach and walk up and down the sideline making their case to the rest of us. It was nice not being privy to the jeering whenever our parents clearly felt wronged by the referees. No, from our perch away from the sideline, it was hard to know if my daughter was out of position or not. If she had a great play or whether possibly it was another child. But we saw enough. We witnessed an amazing goal off a corner kick and then got excited and nervous as the other team raced down and almost tied it up. But we had no parental “energy” swirling around us, affecting our moods and thoughts about the game. It was such a relief. It became solely my daughter’s event, as it should be, not mine. After the game, I hugged her and congratulated her with no agenda about how she played. It was a breath of fresh air for both of us.


Since that day, I have consistently searched out these sorts of spots to watch the game. And it doesn’t matter what sport it is. I find a nook away from the crowd. I find this keeps me from getting caught up in the “sports parent energy” and also keeps me out of earshot when my kids aren’t playing well and I can’t contain myself from muttering a few unkind words under my breath … or out loud. See, it’s a win-win for everyone.

**Update to original post. A reader offered up a very good alternative…


  1. This is a great idea if you have a few toxic parents on the team. It’s all too easy to get sucked into bad actions, negativity, or jeering. Conversely, if other parents aren’t “too far gone”, you can be a force for good and you can help create a positive parent culture.

    If you are fortunate enough to be with a bunch of similarly supportive parents, nothing’s better than watching your kids having fun together.

  2. I have tried splitting time being the casual observe from different vantage points, which provide perspective in spacing and speed you may not have seen before for a half. The other half, engaged with the cheering section to encourage the whole team, not just my kids.

  3. This is the beauty of bleachers. I hate turf, but all the new turf fields are fenced off! Most have bleachers, but even without it’s enough standoff distance to stifle the nonsense. Although I have to admit – it STILL goes on – even in college! I had a father yelling at his daughter from the fifth row! Amazing she still plays the game.

    • Thanks Chris. Very true about the turf and bleachers. I do it at water polo all the time too, I’ve found myself in some pretty unique spots.
      Thanks for sharing!

  4. I have done this but this also distances you from the comradeship of being part of the team which I think is also important for the parents. If you are in travel ball you spend A LOT of time with these people at games and sitting far away from the other parents and the crowd detached you from the team – at least that was my experience.

    • Nikki,
      This is a great point! I feel that way sometimes too. I just make an extra effort when able to hang with the parents..at practice, meals, etc. whenever it’s possible as most of them I really like.
      Thanks for the comment!


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