Some parents wonder what they are supposed to be in their home – are they the sergeant major, maintenance man, the entertainment officer, the in-house ATM machine? The roll that best describes parents is coach. We realise that as our kids head off into their lives we won’t be able to run onto the field with them, but we can train up their skills to do well.
Your success as coach will depend on the quality of your relationship. A tough grumpy coach might be able to coax some extra performance out of a team with his yelling and shaming and threats, but only for a couple of games. The team will lose heart, they won’t listen to him, they’ll drop out. And the same with parenting. It might seem a long way off at the moment, but when your children reach the teenage years, the only influence and authority you have in their life is the authority they want to give you. At that stage, you will be mighty glad you invested in the relationship with them during the earlier stages.
When a coach calls the squad together for a practice, he hopes they’ll have fun, he hopes that they’ll enjoy it -but the coach knows that the real reason to have a practice is to do the work and learn the skills. The Parent Coach knows the same thing – he hopes family life is going to be fun and enjoyable – and he’ll make the effort to ensure it is – but the real purpose of parenting is preparation – getting these kids ready to fly out into the world as whole, healthy people. That means the Parent Coach will hold the line on important things even when his kids complain about it. The Parent Coach is prepared to do the tough stuff – like discipline – because he has a goal in the future he’s looking forward to.
Parenthood is the career of your lifetime. You might have already achieved in your work or profession, or you will in the future, but I tell you what, if you succeed in your role as a parent–coach you will have a fantastic sense of achievement that nothing else can match.
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