To My Son on the Day You Got Cut From the Team

Dear Son,

I wish today emerged differently. I hoped to celebrate tonight over cake and colas. Instead, we are wiping away tears and replaying the last painful minutes.

My Son Didn’t Make the Team

You arrived home with shoulders slumped and eyes cast downward. When you mumbled, “I didn’t make the team,” my heart dropped. I prayed the coach would have provided better news. Your announcement sent shock waves down to my core. You’re a talented athlete with the gumption to push yourself further. Why didn’t the coach see what an asset you would be for the team?

soccer ball on field
My son didn’t make the team and I want him to learn from this disappointment. (Twenty20 @MHPhoto)

My knee-jerk reaction is to march back to the coach and unleash the tongue lashing of a lifetime. I’d like to not-so-gently point out the error in his ways. But fortunately the rational side of my brain reigned in the feisty, rogue portion.

Son, I’m not going back to talk to the coach. The reason: I’m not raising an athlete, I’m raising a man.

You have thankfully experienced few disappointment and injustices. I hope your life continues down that steady, unblemished path. I’d love to think you might enter adulthood with nary a bump or bruise.

But my decades on this earth tell me otherwise. I know zero adults who enter maturity without a scratch. I can personally attest to that fact.

If I shield you from every hurt the world as to offer, you’re likely to crumble upon facing the first obstacle or blow.

That’s not what I want for you.

Instead, I want you to learn from this experience.

Life Lessons from Disappointment

  1. In your life, you will face failures, but you will never be a failure. You have not failed in life if, when you face adversity, you stand strong. You don’t collapse. You look for the opportunities that failure presents. You stay classy. You maintain your faith and love for humanity.
  2. When you go back to school, some of your friends will have made the team. Treat these friends as you would want to be treated. Offer your congratulations, give them high-fives. You CAN be happy for others while still being sad your own loss. Keep this in mind, son.
  3. Life will have many other moments like this. Friends and acquaintances may experience blessings at just the moments you are facing challenges. Don’t let the disappointments in your life impact your ability to love people well.
  4. It may be hard to share your news with others. You may feel embarrassed and ashamed. Wrestle through those emotions, but hold your head high at school. A school team does not provide your value. A coach does not define your worth. Your significance is not based upon your athletic prowess, academic endeavors, social success, or any other measure. You are important and loved just by being you.
  5. Don’t be afraid of those who may use this information to crush your spirits. There are people in this world hell-bent on being oppressors. You are not one of those people. When they sink low, you rise higher. My son, I’m raising you to be an advocate for others (including yourself) and a friend to all.

I imagine you’ll remember this day for a long time, but it will not define you. You are better than that and you are always loved.

With great love and much pride,


What You Might Also Want to Read: 

Grown and Flown: The Book – essential guide for parents of teens

I Hope I Can Help My Kids Learn What’s Truly Important in Life

Rebecca Wood lives with her husband, four sons, and a St. Bernard.  With three teenage boys in the house, she spends most of her time at the grocery store.  But in those rare moments of peace, she savors her role as a freelance writer.  Rebecca’s work has appeared in numerous publications including Indy’s ChildCincinnati ParentDayton Parent, and Chicken Soup for the Soul.


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