Parenting: The Agony of Defeat

October 14, 2011

But are there some lessons to be drawn from disappointing losses by the pro sports teams that we love here in Philadelphia? As a parent, I think so. I think losses – both by our kids' own teams and by the teams they follow – can help us teach our children both perspective and a positive outlook.

Yes, it's a bummer, when a team loses. But really, it's not the end of the world. There's nothing wrong with being upset and allowing your kids to express their sadness and frustration. But I think it's also good to remind them that the really important things in their lives – the support of the family members and friends, their ability to continue to learn and grow -- aren't dependent on the outcome of a single game or even a season.

Most of the Phillies we spent the spring, summer and fall cheering for will be back on the field next April and we'll be cheering them again. They're not giving up. They'll likely spend the winter working on their hitting (let's hope!) and try to come back as an even better team. That's good for children to know. Just because they didn't win this year doesn't mean they'll give up. They'll be trying again.

My sons can get really down on themselves when they lose. As parents, it's important to turn that negative energy around. For example, when they say they did "terrible" in a game, get them to narrow it down. Was it their hitting or their fielding? Was it every play or just one or two? Chances are, they had some good plays and if they narrow down what didn't work to just one or two plays, they have something specific to work on and improve. Yes, the Phillies' bats were quiet, but their pitching was good. And they did have the best regular-season record. See, it wasn't a total loss!

The Phillies will be back next season. The Eagles, despite a less-than-stellar start to the season, will be back on the field Sunday. And as fans, we can thank them for lessons in resiliency that we can pass on to our children.

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