Nick Saban, the football coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide, made popular what’s known as “The Process.” The idea is that over a long season, it’s the small things that make the most impact. Practicing with full-on effort turns into finishing a play strong during game time, which turns into converting on one key possession, then a good quarter, then a winning game—yadda yadda—National Championships. As a Tennessee native, I’d love to say this process doesn’t work. But it sure seems to in Alabama.
As a dad, it’s tough to know if you’re doing fatherhood well. What’s the equivalent of a third-down conversion in your home? Can you hear the announcer? “This dad was focused the entire evening on his child, locked in. He really nailed that tough conversation. Give him six!” No, you won’t find any shiny awards behind glass. So how do you know when you’re doing well? Use Nick Saban’s process (man, that’s painful to type) and notice the small things. Here are 3 questions to decide if what you’re doing is working.
1. Does my kid show signs of listening?
Does your kid show signs of listening to teachers, coaches, or the student pastor? Does she do what’s asked from those in authority? I found this out in a different way with my oldest daughter. I live with her, so I know how she handles listening to me. But after her first semester of high school, her teacher’s remarks were that my daughter was attentive and completed all assignments on time. If you feel like your talks with your kid aren’t connecting, gather more data points than simply how your kid responds to you. Sure, you want her to listen to you, but it helps to have data from additional angles to gauge how you’re doing as a dad. The game may not be as lost as you think. Just make sure you’re also showing signs of listening to your kids.
2. How does my kid respond when things don’t go his way?
When your kid’s younger and you bring up bad behavior, maybe he pauses, thinks, and admits fault. With an older kid, instead of complaining when a friend can’t stay over, he’s able to talk through the weekend events, look at a calendar, and settle on a better date rather than huffing and puffing all the way to his room. These things show what you’re doing is working. Your kid is showing signs of patience and being able to consider others. As you’re modeling patience in your home, when your kid responds well to change, it’s like a strong set of downs on the field.Would you want your kids to be like their friends? If not, it may be time to encourage better influences.
3. Does my kid pick friends wisely?
Think about the friends your kid spends the most time with. We all know the impact friends have. Consider this: Would you want your kids to be like their friends? If not, you haven’t lost the game yet, but it may be time for you to encourage better influences. Maybe you encourage your kid to participate in a sport, an after-school activity, or a small group at church so she meets new friends. If your kid has friends who are great influences, take comfort knowing you’re scoring some points and what you’re doing is working.
Sound off: How do you decide if what you’re doing is working as a dad?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “If they gave out awards for being a dad, would I get one? Why?”