Arriving to the airport at 4:00am to begin Sundance Film Festival, once checking in, I found myself scrolling through various apps designed to help curate an optimum Sundance experience. Yawning and pushing my finger constantly in a swift upward motion to forward the feed, I fell upon a request from Rockey Black hosted upon The Blackhouse app, an organization that “helps Black creative voices and executives gain a better foothold in the industry”. The request stated “….We have a new movie out called WARRIOR PRIDE. It’s on Amazon right now and if your (sic) a prime member u can watch it for free. Just do us a favor and do a review for us. It helps a lot.” I must admit, I am aware that I am naturally drawn to “helping out” being in a helping profession. However, within the request there was a sincerity that many times is absent from ones found upon social media. As a result, my finger stopped moving the feed and I was pulled into 136 minutes of film screening upon the first leg of my flight to Park City, Utah.
Warrior Pride, a film based upon the true life of Coach Dylan Baxter, (acted by Rockey Black and referred to as “Coach”), depicts a man who is committed to his community as a coach and a mentor. In working as a basketball coach to adolescents, his goal to help young males to refine their basketball skills was only one aspect of his influence. Rather, Coach was dedicated to developing the members of the Michigan Warriors AAU basketball team to become honorable men; ones who would be team players, humble, honest and brave. Though the basketball team struggled financially, through faith, the support of loved ones, stamina and fortitude, Coach was able to continue to have a meaningful impact on his community and the adolescents he served.
Despite the positive work the Michigan Warriors offered, there were times when building basketball skills and character were not enough to maintain the team. Being enticed by available funding and hopes of becoming closer to having a basketball career, another local coach sought to seduce parents of talented basketball players into terminating their participation with the Michigan Warriors to play on his team. Within these transactions, one player, who was grateful for the support received by Coach and possessed a loyalty to the team and a second player, who shared the dream of a professional basketball career with his passionate father, both began to feel the intensity of having a discrepancy between what they personally wanted and what their parents’ desired for them. Due to the strain they encountered with their parents, they began to experience the effect of what is coined “psychological control” within the parent-child relationship.
“Psychological control refers to parental control that intrudes on the psychological and emotional development of the child (e.g., invalidating feelings, constraining verbal expression, love withdrawal, guilt induction, etc.” (Barber, B.K., Stolz, H.E., Olsen, J.A., Collins, W.A. & Burchinal, M. (2005, p. 19). Theorist such Fuligni & Pedersen, 2002 note that “the transition to young adulthood represents a significant developmental period in contemporary American society and involves more autonomy and life decisions than earlier periods in individuals’ lives” (p. 856). However, despite the adolescent’s stated desires to their parents and illustration of the beginnings of autonomy, their parents responded in a manner where acceptance, negotiation and compromise were withdrawn from the relationship.
During critical adolescent years where children are learning skills to become functional adults, frequently adolescents ultimately rely upon parents to model best practices to guide their decisions. “It is fairly clear that despite the declines in emotional closeness between children and their parents during early and middle adolescents, older adolescents still see parents as major sources of support regarding important aspects of their lives” (Steinbery,1990, Young & Ferguson, 1979, Fuligni & Pedersen, 2002). While growing greater independence, parenting remains “an important factor in allowing young people to develop life goals that are congruent with their inherent interests and that satisfy their basic psychological needs” (Lekes, et. al., 2010, p. 867). However, when an adolescent is met with a parent(s) who dismiss their feelings and do not support their decisions, it can manifest in a desire to control the adolescent’s behavior and coerce them into submission. By discontinuing conversations prematurely, presenting ultimatums that end with suggestions that love is conditional, and offering compromises that result in guilty feelings provide an opportunity for psychological control to ferment and disagreements to ensue.
It takes a strong will to fight against a parent-child dynamic that includes psychological control. “Despite entering a developmental period that is characterized by potentially greater autonomy than ever before in their lives, young adults report an increased sense of duty to support, assist, and respect their families” (Fuligni & Pedersen, 2002, 864).Within adolescent years, budding emerging adults continue to have a desire to please parents and make them proud which can allow the adolescent to embrace compliance of parents’ demands; even when such desires are in direct contrast with their personal goals. Understanding that adolescents continue to hear the voice of their caregivers and supportive adults and use those voices as a compass for their behavior can provide comfort that adolescents can rely upon the guidance they are provided by these figures. Within Warrior Pride we become a witness to the importance of supportive figures within adolescent’s lives who can offer unconditional support, an undeniable perseverance and dedication to their success to help reduce the consequences of hardships they face. Within this feel good film, Coach’s ability to provide each adolescent with a nurturing environment worked to champion their individual earned successes.
Interested in watching Warrior Pride? Find upon Amazon at:
Barber, B.K., Stolz, H.E., Olsen, J.A., Collins, W.A. & Burchinal, M. (2005). Parental support, psychological control, and behavioral control: Assessing relevance across time, culture, and method. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 70(4), 1-137.
The Blackhouse https://www.theblackhouse.org/about-us/
Fuligni, A.J. & Pedersen, S., 2002. Family obligation and the transition to young adulthood. Developmental Psychology, 38, 5, 856-868.
Lekes, N., Gingras, I., Phillippe, F.L., Koestner, R. & Fang, J. (2010). Parental autonomy-support, intrinsic life goals, and well-being among adolescents in China and North America. Journal of Youth Adolescence, 39, 858-869.
Steinberg, L. (1990). Autonomy, conflict, and harmony in the family relationship. In S.S. Feldman & G.R. Elliot (eds.). At the threshold: The developing adolescent (p. 255-276). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Young, H. & Ferguson, L. (1979). Developmental changes through adolescence in the spontaneous nomination of reference groups as a function of decision context. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 8, 239-252.