This is something that actually happened to me and it was something that I am grateful for now, because it enabled me to share a great lesson with my 13 yr old son on emotion regulation and how to conduct yourself in an emotionally challenging situation.

The situation concerned his football coach, because all season long my son had been left on the bench every game and only ever got half a game each week (I don't agree with this, because I think that each player should get equal time). Now, without boring you with the details...he is a good player, but the coach's son plays in the same position......need I say more? Right or wrong, this was the situation.

As manager of the team, I know how interference from parents to a coach can be so destructive, so, I bit my lip, held my tongue and said nothing all season out of respect for the coach and respect for the parents. So, I didn't want to make a fuss and also I didn't want to embarrass my son by being an 'ugly parent'.

So, finally, at the end of the season, the team had won the league and was in a cup final. Once again my son was on the sub's bench. I thought to myself, 'Well, he should get on at half time anyway so at least he will get half a game in the final'. So you can imagine how I felt when the second half began and my son was still on the bench.

This is where emotions can be dangerous...I could feel a range of emotions going on inside me, ranging from anger to disappointment...I felt like running over to the coach and demanding an wife wanted to just grab our son and take him home...but I did nothing and I told my wife not to as well. My son eventually got on after about 10 minutes and so played 20 mins of the game.

After the game....there were presentations in the club rooms and the normal stuff to go through as manager, but all this time I was feeling slightly dazed really...what made it worse, was there was a bbq for the team afterwards which I was going to go to, but now I really felt I couldn't face it. I knew that if I went, I would very likely weaken and say something to the coach...which I also knew would potentially explode. His wife, I knew, would jump in and defend him...after all it was her son as well! So I asked my son what he wanted to do...he didn't want to go either so I decided to make a quiet get away...say a few low key goodbyes to some people and slip away without any fuss.

However, as my son and I were walking out in the car park, the coach and his wife were standing next to their car. I thought...well I wont say what exactly what I thought ...but you can probably guess, right? And sure enough, he called me over to the car...What could I do?

When I got there, he said...'look I want to give you something for being manager for the season'. Now, bear in mind, this was not usual, we normally get a 'thank you' gift from all the parents, I have never received anything directly from the coach like this before, and I have been with the team for 3 seasons. Well, as you might now be expecting, there really was no way I was going to be able to accept this, and so as calmly as I could, I said:

'Wait...I cant accept this gift because to be honest, I feel a little......424765 off!'

Well, the coach looked up at me....and even though I could see in his eyes that he knew why...he still said...'why?'

I said ' because my son only got 20 mins on the pitch today in the final, and he has only played half a game all season'.

Well, at that point, his wife exclaimed...'oh my god, I might have known!' Fortunately, he motioned quickly for her to keep quiet and go away.

As I said earlier, that was a very predictable response and to me confirmed that they both knew exactly where I was coming from and the gift was a 'guilt gift'... a 'thankyou' for letting us treat your son so badly so that our's can get what he wants!!

Well, the next minute or so involved him trying to defend his actions...defending a weak position I call it...and so even though my blood was boiling, I simply said:

'...I dont want to argue about it, its done. But, I cant accept the gift...and I don't think it is fair what you have done' and with that, I walked away with my son.

Now, I have seen parents have stand-up rows and even physical fights about this stuff and I must admit, many years ago, I probably would have as well, but it really all came home to me and made sense when my son said, when we got in the car:

'Dad...I'm really glad you didn't shout at him...some people are so weird!!'

So, the point I am making here..well there are a number actually:

  • Emotional intelligence and the ability to use emotion regulation is so vital...knowing how to have some self-control, self-mastery and to see the bigger picture in situations.
  • Finding the lessons we can learn in challenging situations...I had the opportunity to be able to teach my son something...not just about me but about being a man and being an adult.
  • That even though some people may do you wrong, it is how you handle yourself that is important. I told him..'We have learned some great lessons here son and I'm glad that I could show you that'
  • The coach also has lessons to learn...which unfortunately, he is not learning right now
  • Oh and by the case you were wondering - the team lost the Cup final anyway!!

    Author's Bio: 

    You can discover lots more ideas, techniques, and strategies to see the bigger picture in your life and deal with the ups and downs of everyday living in my free ebook "The Mind Body and Spirit Gameplan" at

    Dean Hopkins is known as the Self Help Junkie and is a Writer, Artist and Music Producer who left the Corporate Rat Race as a successful commercial Interior Designer to focus on his passion of inspiring people to love more, live more and be more effective in their lives.