I was at a friend’s house recently and the scene inside his home reminded me of the days when I was parenting young children. There was stuff all over the floor. There were people pushing and pulling each other. There were children seemingly being pulled apart. There was debris flying through the air. A paper airplane almost caught me in the eye. It was quite hilarious, and I found myself remembering how many similarities there are between parenting young children and officiating.
As a dad, you are constantly calling time out. You are always spewing out rules and guidelines, many that you make up along the way. You continually try to get everybody to stay on their own sides. If you had a whistle, you’d probably be blowing it every second to call a foul.
There’s a lot of pressure in officiating. The same is true in your home. You are the one likely to get blamed for stopping all of the fun because you are the one enforcing the rules. Sometimes parents get into a rut where one parent is always the disciplinarian while the other parent is considered the fun one. That’s not good. Both parents should discipline and both should engage in fun with their children. Don’t be the parent who gets too caught up in the correction mode and misses out on the enjoyable times.
Parenting young children takes a lot of energy. It seems like most of your time is spent breaking up arguments, picking up toys off the floor, planning meals, and washing clothes. It’s all work and little play. But that’s where you might need to make a change. While officiating is a big part of a parent’s job, it’s important to be involved in the game as well. Put down your whistle once in a while and get in the game. Find some activities that you can participate in with your children.
When they’re younger, it’s a little bit easier because little kids are usually easily entertained by just throwing a ball, playing a board game, or putting a puzzle together. As your children grow older, it gets tougher to find activities to engage in with them, but it’s not impossible. I know a man whose son is in high school and getting him to talk at the dinner table was pretty frustrating. He and his wife would ask about his day at school and get mostly one word answers. One day, they discovered his enthusiasm for current events and realized that if they brought up a subject that was happening in the news that day, he would talk openly and share his views. They found a way to get in the game.
Parents need to find ways to build camaraderie with their children in addition to the discipline. Find ways to create opportunities that are fun and will help everyone win at home.