When I played football in college, I was a skinny wide receiver. So I don’t have many “big hits” to brag about. But there is one I remember.
It was my senior year, and we were scrimmaging against the freshmen. One of those guys was a linebacker named Lee—a big, fast, tough guy.
I didn’t play defense, but I was around practice enough to hear the coaches talk about the linebackers: they had to keep their heads “on a swivel.” You’ve seen how linebackers operate. They park there behind the defensive line, and react to what they see. So, they’re always scanning back and forth, left and right, and using their peripheral vision to take in the bigger picture, so they can anticipate where the ball is headed.
That was Lee’s role in our scrimmage game. But that freshman had not quite learned to keep his head on a swivel. Well the coaches called a running play that had me turning into the middle and blocking a linebacker—or at least I was trying to block him. I was a senior; I knew my role.
The ball was snapped, and here I came, right at Lee. Sure enough, his head was not on a swivel. I came close to him, and I knew I was going to blindside him. And I was a good Christian kid, right? So I tried to warn him before I got there: “Lee! Lee!”
It was no use, and I still had to do my job, so I hit him right in the ribs and laid him out—just about knocked the air out of him.
I tell you this story not because I was a great blocker, but because it came to my mind when I think about a father’s role. As we try to coach our kids toward wisdom and maturity, we need to keep our heads on a swivel also.
We have to react to what we see happening in our children’s lives. We scan back and forth, learning all we can so that we can anticipate possible challenges and step in to help, or protect, or correct, or teach. We also see the bigger picture, so we can put our children’s actions in perspective, and we’re less likely to overreact—or under-react.
So get your head on a swivel, dad … figuratively speaking. Have a healthy awareness of your children, and you won’t get blindsided.
Carey Casey is CEO of the National Center for Fathering and the author of Championship Fathering. Read more about Carey.