Coach-Parent: The Good...The Bad...The Ugly...
When my son first started playing basketball, I 'volunteered' my husband, without asking, to coach the team. I didn't care if he had coached, or for that matter, even played, basketball at the time. I didn't even think about if he would actually want to coach. I just blindly added his name to the volunteer list. I had no idea what coaching a team actually meant. That was 9 years ago.
Now, we are both seasoned coaches, in our respective sports. But, the trip here has had it's ups and downs. The most obvious impact has been on our family.
Our children have the benefit of personal training at home. We can use our expertise to work with our kids at home. We can make up additional practice plans, if necessary, and do research specifically for our children. We are more willing to spend time with our kids on activities that we feel adequate in. Therefore, as coach-parents, we feel secure with helping our kids hone their craft.
We have built these undeniable relationships with our children. They have seen our sacrifices, and know that we started all this to show our love and support for those things they are interested in. We also have an immediate common ground.
We have countless ties to our community. This is a positive for our children, as much as it is for us. They know that not only do they have us to count on, look up to, and be accountable to, but they have the support of our community as well.
Our kids have grown up with a sense of philanthropy and community service. They see the benefits of giving back, physically and financially. They know what it's like to be on the giving and receiving end, and they appreciate both sides.
Switching between roles (coaching and parenting) can get sticky. For instance, when our child is disruptive at a practice, he/she has to deal with being disciplined as a member of the team and also as our child. So when the other team members get to go home, and don't have to hear the "coach" get upset any further about what they did in practice to be disruptive, our children get an extra earful.
We have to learn how to build our child up, keep them motivated, and still critique them, without killing their spirit. It's been my experience that most children listen to their coaches when it comes to 'athletic' criticisms, before they listen to their parents. So, when you are BOTH the coach and the parent, it can quickly go in one ear and out the other. And then there are the times when your point gets taken to heart too much, and your child has hurt feelings. This is especially common if you have to make the critique in front of the other team members.
We take away days, months, maybe even years, worth of time from our family to invest them into others. If we are not careful, we can make our children feel like they are not as important as the sport or the team. We have to work extra hard to find a room for our children to feel special within the adventure at the end of the day.
If we, as coaches, do anything to upset a player or a parent, this can trickle down to our children. Our kids can be the scapegoats for many potential issues between the adults on the team. When we have problems, it affects our kids because they know that we are hurt. Our children never like to see us hurt. It's worse when they feel that the cause can somehow be related to them.
The "coach's kid" mentality that is in society now can put undue pressure on a coach's kid. Any coach who is honestly making an attempt to be fair and balanced with their team will ALWAYS have an underlying voice that they have to deal with. That voice is saying things like "he's only getting playing time because he's the coaches' kid," or "she's flying because she's the coach's kid," and I'm sure you can figure out more examples. But the truth is, we are more likely to show less favortism to our child than to any other child on the team. We don't like having that pressure put on our children. We would like for them to feel as deserving of their achievements as the other children on the team who don't have parents who are on staff.
In the end, we as coach-parents come out on top because the pros overcome the cons with ease. Our kids reap the rewards of countless life long friendships. These are friendships that they would've never had through school. Yes, you don't necessarily have to coach for these connections to take place. However, for our family, I'm sure that coaching did play a factor in several of these relationships. Our world still bases a lot of their final decisions about people off the first impression that they get. So for our family, I know that we have been given more consideration, in some cases, because we have been the ones coaching. We get an opportunity to show our true selves to others by the way we treat their children, what we teach their children, and the manner in which we do so. For this, my family is eternally grateful. We have built many substantial relationships over the years. We are truly blessed to transform our roles as coach-parents and team members into friends and some into family.
I do it for the kids and the love of the sport!