Parents Behaving Badly
An uproarious and poignant satire of American suburbia and youth sports gone wild
When Ben and Jili Holden must move from Manhattan with their three children back to their small hometown of Palace Valley, California, they are forced to reconcile the parents they’ve become with the dreams they once had. After reluctantly stepping up to coach his son’s Little League team, Ben is challenged to finally come to terms with the long shadow of his father, a legendary high school baseball coach who is beloved by generations of players, yet largely a stranger to Ben.
Ben and Jili struggle to connect with their technology-addicted children and grapple with issues of marital fidelity—both at home and in the hotbed of sexual tension that is the Little League park. Among an unforgettable cast are Del, a tyrannical coach; Liza, Ben’s unrequited high school crush; and Cyn, the sultry thong-wearing team mom with the serpent tattoo. Parents Behaving Badly offers a field-level view of the insanity of youth sports today and roasts the lunatic parents and overzealous coaches who all too often ruin it for the kids.
When Parents Behave Badly
Reading Group Guide
When Ben Holden and his family move from New York City back to his hometown in rural California, he reenters a world of his former classmates, aging parents, quirky siblings, and the agony and ecstasy of Little League baseball, where the parents are often more intense and into the game than the kids. The first novel by journalist and author Scott Gummer, Parents Behaving Badly is a satirical, often hilarious portrait of suburban life and modern parenting. Gummer expertly weaves together provocative and timely storylines, ultimately illuminating what it means to be a true leader, be it in the form of a role model, coach, or parent.
Questions and Topics for Discussion
- Early in the story Ben and his aging father, Coach, share a tender and, for Ben, curious moment when his father gently pats Ben’s hand. (p. 18) How does this brief moment, and Ben’s reaction to it, shed light on his relationship with his father?
- As a high school freshman Ben made the bold cho