LaVar Ball, Please SHUT UP! Signed, Parents Everywhere

You may not recognize his name, but you probably know a parent like LaVar Ball.

Parents like Ball have gifted kids – on the athletic field, on a stage singing or while splitting atoms in science class.  To bystanders, these prodigies are obvious and their skills are admirable.

That is, until their boastful parents prompt resentment.

You see, the rest of us parents – the dad of the third chair saxophone player or the mom of the last player on the bench – don’t care to hear about these child savants all of the time.  Too often, though, we do from their overly-proud parents.

They tell us about their kid’s relative greatness constantly, and at volumes that are difficult to ignore.

A quick visit to any kids sporting event will showcase such parenting behavior.

Just look for the dad yelling, both in encouragement and with anger, for the name on the back of the jersey rather than the front.

It should be easy to pick out the parent that treats a team win as secondary to his kid stuffing the stat sheet to catch a recruiter’s eye.

When you leave the arena, these parents are likely more impacted by the contest’s outcome, good or bad, than their child prodigy.

Now that you have mentally identified such a parent, multiply their over-exuberance by 100 and give their voice a national audience – this is LaVar Ball.

Mr. Ball has been thrust into the national spotlight of late – his son, Lonzo Ball, is a gifted basketball prodigy.  He plays for the U.C.L.A. men’s basketball team and, by all measures, is a fantastic player.  Lonzo Ball is a projected NBA lottery pick and averages nearly 15 points per game for one of the nation’s best teams.

LaVar Ball, unfortunately, has stolen the spotlight with wild revelations, such as:

Asserting that Lonzo would turn the L.A. Lakers into a playoff team instantly.

Ball is quoted as saying, “Lonzo is Magic Johnson with a jump shot.”

Claiming that his three sons (two of which are in high school) are worthy of a shoe contract of $1 billion.

First things first – I applaud LaVar Ball as a father.

If you can get through the bravado, Ball is present at every game (and probably has been for years), is active in helping his kids chart a future course and is his three sons’ biggest advocate and fan.

But, please Mr. Ball, just SHUT UP!

Just SHUT UP – for your kids’ sake! 

Boasting about your children is not only unbecoming, it is unhealthy.

A study by Stress America documented in PsychAlive, says the following about the impact of such behavior:

“Parents who think they are giving their children love by showering them with constant attention are failing to see how much they are pulling on or draining the child.  When a person feels a “need” or “longing” for their child, it can be a red flag that they are taking more than they are giving in the relationship.  If a parent feels their child is “filling up” a part of them, for example, that they are their sole source of joy, it can be a further warning that they are experiencing emotional hunger toward their child.  Love is an offering of encouragement, support, and affection.  Emotional hunger provides just the opposite…The biggest problem with narcissistic parents is that, in trying to build their children up, they are actually neglecting to recognize and support their child’s independent sense of self.  Instead, the child feels a heavy amount of pressure from their parents. They may carry fears of falling short and the sense that they will never be good enough.”

The Ball ballers will face enough pressure without the need for their father to pile on.

Just SHUT UP – for your sake! 

No successful person has reached the mountain top without some help – no one does it completely alone.

Having talent is necessary.  It is obvious that Mr. Ball’s children have this covered.

Having connections is valuable.  The nation now knows the Ball’s and, I’m sure, their network is growing by the moment (arguably more so via LaVar’s latest escapades).

But, having credibility opens doors through those connections – both now and in the future.  Mr. Ball is slamming doors, one crazy claim at a time.

Advocating for our kids – whether for the NBA draft, a multi-million dollar shoe deal, or for a better grade on a math quiz – requires parents to stand on solid, logical, measured footing that allows those that can help some space to try.  No one will be willing to help when credibility is nonexistent.

Just SHUT UP – for the rest of us parents!

There is an un-intended consequence of over-bearing parents: those of us taking a different approach, see the gifted child’s success connected to a parent’s obnoxious behavior and, regrettably, become just like them for fleeting moments.

That’s why I’m more apt to yell at my son to “HUSTLE!”, if I hear other parents intensely doing so toward their child during a soccer game.

When I join in, I am channeling two thoughts:

(1) I want to prove that my son is as loved and as capable as your proclaimed prodigy.

(2) I desperately want my son to humble yours (and you).

When I become this “psycho-screaming-dad”, I feel badly.  It’s unfair.  So, please help me prevent that metamorphosis.

LaVar Ball and I do, however, share some common ground.

Just like Mr. Ball, I’m my kids’ biggest fan and most loyal advocate.

Unlike Ball, though, I’ll be seated quietly in the back row – not because I don’t care, but, because I do.

I’ve chosen to SHUT UP.

I hope that sometime soon, LaVar Ball will do the same.


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