How Do You Handle Your Emotions When Your Child Is Benched?

Maybe knowing you’re in good company will help

Frustration, sadness, anger. Her words expressed all three emotions on behalf of her daughter. But she knew it wasn’t her battle. As a parent, the only thing worse than personal torment is watching your child suffer his own when you are powerless to help.

This poem, titled “Benched,” captures one of those moments for me. My youngest son, Adam, had made baseball All Stars only to find himself sitting the bench more than he played. And, oh, how he wanted to play!

My friend’s daughter wants to play, too. Volleyball, not baseball. But as my friend shared her grief at watching her daughter sit the bench, I reached for my computer to find this poem I wrote in 2006. I thought she might relate and find comfort, as I did, in the truth it contains.

And still do.

Sometimes it’s me riding the “bench.” Unchosen. Watching others succeed while I remain unnoticed or ignored. Maybe you experience that — or, maybe, like my friend is now, you’re watching your child suffer. I hope you find comfort in this, even if your “game” doesn’t require a bat, ball, or glove.


From where I sit 
I see the faces on the field, 
Boys in position, baseball ready. 
Not my son. 
I see his profile, 
His back, number 14, 
One hand grasping the fence, 
One enclosed in his glove, 
Intently watching, eternally hoping, 
“Put me in, Coach.” 

My parental heart aches. 
I hide my tears behind my glasses 
And long to say, “Put him in, Coach. 
We’re eight runs ahead 
(Or eight runs behind) 
How much damage could he do?” 
I try to stay positive, 
Cheering the team, 
Trying to ignore that earnest face 
That longs for his chance to shine. 
Put him in, Coach. 

Against the fence, baseball ready. 
Intently watching, baseball ready. 
Wanting to play. Rejected. 
I know he must prove his worth. 
But can he without a chance to play? 
Who can say what he might offer 
On the other side of the fence? 
My heart breaks as I see him there;  
My mouth wants to speak, 
“Put him in, Coach.” 

And then I hear 
The voice of another parent 
Whose Son is rejected too. 
He also longs to play the game, 
But for lives, not just a win. 
His value exceeds the chosen ones; 
They don’t give Him the chance.  
Intently watching, eternally hoping, 
He says to all, “Let me in.” 
He, too, is often rejected. 
God’s Son benched. 

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