With children, words and actions often hold equal weight

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 30, 2008

By Harold Keller

“A torn jacket is soon mended, but hard words bruise the heart of a child. “                                                                           

– Henry Wadsworth


I’m reminded of that quote many times during the summer as I attend Little League baseball games.  

An activity that is supposed to give children an opportunity to have fun, learn to be a team player, and build character has failed to achieve its purpose.  The reason is because adults, some coaches, and many parents have bruised the hearts of many children by their unruly behavior at games.  

A few years ago, I read a story by James Robinson, the author of the book, Fatherhood. It told of a father who always yelled at the coach and other players which made his son nervous and embarrassed wondering how his dad was going to react on this or that decision.  

In his heart, the father knew he was wrong, but couldn’t control his actions, until one day he finally got it right.  

Running late, as he approached his son’s all-star game, the team was already on the field, but his son was sitting on the bench. His first reaction was to get angry that his son wasn’t in the starting lineup. As he took his seat in the bleachers, his son looked unsmilingly over his shoulders with an expression on his face that his dad could read his mind.  He knew what his son was thinking: Oh man, I know Dad is really disappointed and upset to see me on the bench. Dear God, please don’t let him say or do anything that would embarrass me.  

At that moment, his dad felt he had to convey to his son that he was proud of him and that he didn’t need to “perform” on the field to get his approval.  

He walked to the dugout and leaned over as his son looked up somewhat apprehensively. His dad then said, “Son, I’m just as proud of you sitting on the bench as I would be if you were the starting third baseman and hitting a home run to win the game. You’re my son, and I love you and am proud of you. Always remember that you don’t have to do anything to please me.”   

Tears filled his son’s eyes and he smiled. Somehow, his dad knew he had touched a chord. With thanks in his heart to God, he finally did exactly the right thing.

I pray that every father and mother will get this message and act accordingly.

If you have any questions, or comments, please write to Get High on Life, P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA  70084, call (985) 652-8477,or e-mail: hkeller@comcast.net.