I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had with mothers and fathers about the topic of coaching your own child. I have had many people tell me they believe it is unfair to coach your child due to the expectations put on that child. I have had others tell me they can’t coach their child because they would too often butt heads. I have even had parents tell me they are way too tough on their child when coaching them. Allow me to tell you my thoughts on this topic as I have coached my two daughters for years.
Parenting and coaching are very similar in many ways. As a coach or parent, I have always, very directly, set my expectations for my children. As a parent, I understand mistakes will be made and poor choices will be made, but because I set my expectations and along with this my boundaries, it is very easy for me to get them back on track when they do wander off. Coaching my child is one of the easiest things I have had to do because they understand completely that I am their biggest fan and will always give them the freedom to be an individual on my team. I don’t give them certain freedoms because they are my child during a season, and more importantly I don’t treat them any more harshly because they are my child. They are simply a player on my team. I make this extremely clear with them and that is why they love playing for their coach..their dad.
When your child doesn’t listen to you during practice it isn’t a parenting issue, it is a coaching control issue. If another player disrespected me or didn’t listen to me they would be disciplined so why wouldn’t I do the same with my child who plays for me. I can honestly say there has never been an incident when one of my daughters disrespected me during sports because I was their father and they were using the “sibling card”. The reason is I am always open, honest and completely fair with them. I don’t abuse my role as a parent or as a coach. I just treat them as another player on my team during sports and my daughters the rest of the time. They both know and respect it.
My oldest daughter was my starting point guard on the varsity as a freshman. She didn’t receive special treatment, regardless of those who felt so. As my daughter-, she received the nod because she showed the physical skills, mental maturity and cognitive values to run our team. My younger daughter has played for me as well. She has been in a position where she had to play up in age with our travel team and some times she didn’t get to play as much as she would have liked. But we had the “Talk” so she would understand my role as a coach and my responsibilities to the team. Then there were other times when I put full trust in her to run the team and this decision was based on my coaching strategies to challenge her leadership versus my parenting desires for her to play. She also understood this because we talked about it.
Coaching your child is an honor and a privilege. It is also a responsibility. The responsibility is to teach your child we all have roles to play. The fact we may have a relationship different than other players or coaches in the program just means we still have to uphold our role as a player and coach- father daughter aside.
In my opinion, when your child acts out against you during or after practice or at a game, the responsibility is on you as a parent to set the example of what is appropriate and what isn’t. It is very important to cultivate a relationship over time that shows your child that you love them as your child all the time, and your actions as their coach will not show them favoritism nor harsher treatment. When this bond of respect is cultivated and continually work on the relationship of coach and child will flourish. I do understand not all parents can handle this situation, but please don’t blame it on anything other than not being able to set the proper relationship and also learning how to control your emotions when needed most.