Monday, September 13, 2010

The Authority Blog

Fresh off my compromise with Tay's homecoming plans, I am now experiencing new authoritative revelations. In high school I played on the football team (poorly) for four years. At the time I disliked every one of my coaches. They pushed me, yelled at me, drove me, and asked from me more than I thought I could deliver. How dare they. Twenty plus years later I realize, while their schemes were elemntary and unimaginative at times (we shouldn't have been running the option. we were too slow and too small), their personalities were perfect to help young men learn about themselves. Parenting and football coaching are parallel philosophies.

I graduated from the University of Alabama in the early 1990s with a degree in communications. Alabama is known for their football program. They won the national championship in my senior year. They won it last season. They currently employ Nick Saban as their head coach. Saban has a brilliant mind for recruiting and developing elite talent. He is a sour demeanored perfectionist. He has more detractors than supporters because of his history of jumping from job to job. He also tends to be disagreeable with the media. I personally like that part of his personality but media types will paint a person a certain way if he doesn't stroke their egos. Saban's record in several jobs is outstanding. He has won two national titles and appears to be ready for a third. He is not well liked by many people, including his own coahing staff. The best part of Saban is he holds his players accountable for their performance, often threatening them with their positions. This works in the football world because you are only as good as your last game. Saban's players rarely are in trouble, mainly because they fear him. Saban would probably make a terrible CEO or high school principal, but in the dog eat dog world of major college football, he's perfect.

I am finding, with my kids, that trying to make them happy all the time is a waste of time and energy. Their mother and I are not their friends. At least not right now. We are their to love them, protect them, provide for them, and mold them into good people. We are supposed to say no, stop it, quit whining, eat your food, you've got to be kidding me, get off the phone, don't hit your sister, make up your mind, inside or outside, put on clothes when it's cold, do your homework, call your grandparents and tell them thank you, walk the dog, pick up your clothes, clean your room, and show me respect. As a result, my kids are not going to like me, think I'm cool, or even smile in my presence some of the time.

The opposite of Nick Saban is University of Georgia's coach, Mark Richt. Richt is a smart man who lives an almost pristine lifestyle. He is a God fearing, religious driven, child adopting saint of a man who has the lifestyle respect of everyone in his reach. Media types love him because he is loyal, nice, available, and exhibits an air of kindness unseen in most of college football. Richt's regular season record is terrific but he has never won a national championship. He hasn't won a league title in 5 years. Richt is a very nice man, but his program has been beset with disciplinary problems for years. In the past 12 months, his players has been arrested 9 times. His best player, receiver AJ Green is serving a four games suspension for illegally selling a bowl game jersey to an agent. The one "knock" on Richt is his players like him, they don't fear retribution for there poor behavior.

I think being a parent merges the styles of Saban and Richt. You demand personal responsibility from your children. Yet, you shower them with affection. Let them know you care about them. If they do get out of line, they need to know that their are real consequences. Trying for perfection is stupid. I am learning this. While you can have high expectations for your kids, knowing they will fail is required. Teaching them how to handle failure is tantamount. I can't replace one of my daughters when they get in trouble the way Saban can replace a running back. I also can not go easy on one of my girls because I love them and think they're cute and smell nice.

I am not a John Cougar Mellanchamp fan. He has a few songs that are tolerable. One of which is The Authority Song. It's an ode to the Bobby Fuller Four tune, I Fought The Law (later covered by The Clash). The chorus goes "I Fight Authority, Authority always wins.  Well, I've been doing it since I was a young kid, and I come out grinning. Well, I fight authority, authority always wins."

I hope my kids rebel, even fight their mom and I. That's natural. It shows heart. I'm ok with them thinking I'm a jerk for making them clean their room or tell the truth or talk to their mom with respect. I just hope they always give their best effort, leave everything they have out on the field, and strive to be the best player they can be. Wait, I'm mixing metaphors or something. Maybe I need to run laps til I throw up.

Here's some more Johnny Cougar:

1 comment:

  1. I love this post. That is a perfect comparison of parenting styles. Again, I do not have kids, but I see people of my generation struggling to be their kids' friend, most times with disastrous consequences. For the child and the parent. I guess it's my raisin', but I think parents need that balance of authority but kindness, there is no friendship in parenting, that comes later.