All I Really Need to Know About Parenting, I Learned From a High School Football Coach
I know, I know… your football coach husband gets enough attention and has plenty of admirers without an essay about how good he is at “momming.” I have to admit, though, that even with my Master’s Degree in Education, strong female friendships, stable childhood, and stay-at-home-mom dedication for eighteen straight years, it’s his words on that field to his teams that have really helped guide and refocus me when home life was chaotic, boring, or unsatisfying.
I’d like to be honest by admitting that he was never really addressing me with these statements, and I’m sure these words aren’t even his. He is an avid reader and loves to study the game as well as the psychology of it, so I’m sure these were someone else’s ideas. But I only ever heard them from his mouth, and I used them to fuel my mothering.
#1. Don’t treat everyone the same. Everyone responds differently. Some require encouragement, while others require pressure and challenge.
Isn’t that the truth? 3 boys in 6 years and each is completely different! One worked for rewards, the other two you’d have to trick to do anything. They are all amazing humans and do what they are supposed to do, but it was tricky to figure out what made them tick when they were small.
#2. “Focus on what you can control. Find your player’s strengths and use them to make your team better.”
I had real trouble here. It seemed disorderly to not have my kids do what I wanted them to, how and when I wanted them to do it. It works okay as toddlers because, of course, they put away their toys and used their manners as I told them to. But as they grew, their strategies for becoming who they were started to reflect themselves and if it didn’t match how I did it, I had to remember that’s not the point. What works for them helps the “team” (family). So, save the struggle for the real issues.
#3 “Control your actions. You can be quick but don’t rush.”
The hustle is real with 3 little boys and a busy husband, but I always observed and treasured it. How magical was this time? What a privilege for this to be my life. When they asked me to, “look” or they have to “tell me something special”… that was moment to stop in my tracks and give them a hundred percent of my attention.
#4.”Love rules. The purpose of discipline isn’t to punish but to correct.”
It’s because of this, I think all my boys are reasonable. They’ve gotten in trouble, and they’ve known they’ve deserved it, but I’ve never been unable to reason with them. We are here to help you be a good person. That is the reason I am here. They can mess up, and I can help them get back on track.
#5 “It is going to hurt. You have to get past the pain and keep moving forward.”
Yup. Sick, exhausted, heartbroken, and lost. That’s motherhood. Just get up and try again. No finish line or end of the game either. Not even a time out. Just keep moving.
#6. “Give it your all and trust your team. Wake up in the morning and give it 100%”
That’s us. There are 5 of us and we will do anything for each other. Everybody is different and perfect and broken every day. We all try really hard for the other 4. We are undefeated in this game. We may have messed up the play, or come to practice a little out of shape, but we don’t let each other down. We show up as one and have never lost.
Anita is a current children’s yoga teacher, former elementary teacher, and has 3 sons. She quit her teaching job to stay home and raise them while her husband taught phys ed and coached 3 sports. Their boys are 21, 18, and 15 years old. Two are in college now and the baby is a freshman in high school on dad’s football team. They’ve been married for 22 years and her husband has been a football coach ever since she met him.