Dad, you know this already, but your children are all different. The question is, What does that mean to you?
Part of your coaching role as a father is to look for the ways your children are different from each other and then use that specific knowledge to encourage, challenge, and even discipline them.
My son Marcellus is a father himself now. But I can remember many times when I had to take drastic measures to get through to him on some important points, teaching him to be respectful and considerate of others—usually his sisters.
So I’d give him a little punch in the arm to get his attention, and say, “Come here, boy. Let me school you up.” I can remember when Homeboy slammed my car door in anger, and we had a good, long discussion. Quite often, I would take him to the park, away from his sisters, where I could be more direct and talk to him man-to-man—a little bit like how my football coaches used to talk to me, only without the cursing. I really let him know what day it was.
Then there’s my son Chance. He’s fourteen years younger, so I’ve changed a lot since Marcellus was a boy, but the differences with Chance are obvious. He gets into plenty of trouble, too, and needs my guidance and correction. But if I so much as raise my voice or look at him in a certain way, it breaks his heart. He’s just about ready to cry. The difference is amazing.
Both boys needed correction, and love, and guidance, but in different ways. I’m not sure I understood this like I should have with my older children, but now I’m really focusing more on how Chance is unique and how I can best meet his needs.
At the same time, I can see how Marcellus’s temperament is an advantage in his life. I’m sure Chance will have a calling that’s completely different.
As men striving to be Championship Fathers, we should zero in on our children’s strengths and weaknesses—what motivates, embarrasses, encourages, and hurts each child. As children get older, their lives become more complex, and so does the task of keeping up with them. School, sports, clubs, and friends all add to their experience and personality.
But, dads, we can’t lose track of them; it’s our job to help them find their unique place in life.
Carey Casey is CEO of the National Center for Fathering and the author of Championship Fathering. Read more about Carey.