Guys, sports, and parenting series #2
Guys have tremendous power to be an influence for good in their kids’ lives. We face some challenges however. Sometimes we don’t get involved. Other times we don’t know what we should do. There are times when we don’t want to take heat from mom and avoid getting involved. What we don’t realize is that we are amazingly prepared to help raise kids, and kids love it when we do. To help us understand the skills we have, we’re going to talk sports.
I remember the head coach just watching us while one of the assistant coaches drilled us to death. Up, down, run in place, roll over, foot fire, push-ups, sit-ups and on and on and on it went. Then they’d split us up, and the offensive and defensive coaches would teach technique and build skills. Then there was special teams coaching and on and on.
All of us knew our head coach didn’t know it all. Fortunately our head coach knew he didn’t know it all as well. One of a head coach’s critical jobs is to pick assistant coaches who know their stuff, and let them make football players out of their recruits. Players with skills of quick reactions, smart thinking, cool under pressure, who know how to respond when losing, and hang tough in difficult situations. Making a team like that takes input from a bunch of coaches. There is not one coach on earth that can teach an entire team all of that. They need help.
It’s the same with raising kids. We need a bunch of coaches in our kids’ lives. Maybe you think of yourself as the head coach, or maybe your spouse is the head coach. Maybe you’re a single parent with no choice but to be the head coach. No matter what, a good head coach will know they don’t know it all, and others have skills they need to depend on. So we need to look around at our family, friends, and neighbors and ask, “Who can I get to help raise my kids?”
It takes a community. We ought to invite grandmas and grandpas, uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces, friends, teachers, social workers, and neighbors, and let them know they have a role in helping raise our kids. We are primarily responsible, but a good community watches out for each other and takes care of each other.
The College Transition Project, looking at faith in college students, suggests that multiple adults (five or more) of various ages involved in a student’s life are critical to a successful college transition in terms of faith (Powell, 2010). This is likely true of many more areas in our kids’ lives. A good question to ask ourselves is, “Who are the adults influencing my kid?” Make a list and see if there could be more.
On the field and in practice there was no way the head coach could even see what all was taking place. All of the coaches had their eyes out and helped each other develop the team. While each coach had their primary responsibilities, the coaches would cross over and help out the other coaches at times.
In the same way, we should let our family, friends, and neighbors know that we should all be watching out for each other’s kids. Invite others to feel free to talk to you about your kids and your parenting. If someone is a caretaker for your child, you should empower them by helping them understand your child’s strengths and challenges and letting them know how you enforce boundaries. Just as there needs to be communication between coaches to make sure everyone is on the same page for the team, you need to have talks with other people about your kids.
A good coach also remembers to listen because a good coach is never done learning. There is always something more to know about the game and the players. In the same way we should listen to our significant other, to grandma, to our kids’ teachers, to a friend’s advice, and listen to our kids. All of this will make us a better parent, especially if we get a number of different perspectives. Each child will have individual traits that will need to be handled a little differently. Fortunately you likely have a friend or family member with some of those same traits, and they can help you understand what might help your child and help you avoid what might harm your child.
Although all of our kids’ brains go through a similar developmental pattern, the speed of that development and specific strengths, weaknesses, and characteristics of that development varies. Some kids are late readers, some kids more easily remember things they see, and others more easily remember what they hear and so on. All of our kids are different in important ways. It really helps to have a bunch of perspectives and input to help us raise our kids. A good Coach knows that having assistant coaches makes a better team.
Do what Coach did and go get yourself a bunch of assistant coaches!
* Powell, Kara E. Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011