Use your comfort level to determine if child's independence is safe


Youth Sports

March 04, 2007|By CAL RIPKEN JR.

DEAR CAL -- Last summer I taught my son how to fish and he loves it. We went out a lot in the summer and fall. A few weeks ago when it was unseasonably warm, he came home with his rod and box and said he'd been over at the stream fishing by himself. I used to do that when I was little, but times were different. He is only 9. Should I limit him to going out only with me or another adult or am I overreacting?

Kyle Kellogg, Frederick

DEAR KYLE -- This is a decision only you as a parent can make. All of us have certain comfort levels as parents. We all want our children to grow up and be free in many ways, but how much space we allow them is something that is an individual choice.

I leaned a little toward sheltering my kids when they were 9 years old. I wanted to be with them and for them to know they were protected. Different parents have different feelings, so this is something that you'll have to come to grips with yourself. I do know that most activities are more fun when shared with more than one person, so maybe it would be a good bonding experience for you to at least occasionally accompany your son on his fishing expeditions.

DEAR CAL -- We are a growing community and in constant need of more coaches. However, we often move people into coaching positions without them knowing the game or understanding coaching. What is the best way to get new coaches the training they need to lead at the Little League level?

Eddie Mosely, Smyrna, Tenn.

DEAR EDDIE -- This is exactly the reason that we have partnered with the American Sport Education Program (ASEP) and the Babe Ruth League to develop our own online coaching certification program. We know that most people start coaching because they have a great heart and want to participate in their kids' activities. What they don't have is a starting point and much direction about how to proceed.

We've produced an extensive line of instructional products, including CD-ROMs, books and DVDs, as resources to help those who have the desire to coach. The coaching certification program we have developed ( is comprehensive. And there are a lot of other wonderful coaching resources out there. While our program is supported by the Babe Ruth League, it is comprehensive enough to be used by a youth baseball coach from any organization.

Maybe at the league level you can get together and make coaching education a priority by requiring your coaches to go through some type of training. While I'd certainly recommend our program to anyone, there are many other good programs out there as well. All you have to do is look.

Have a question or issue arising from your involvement in youth sports? Send it by e-mail to

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