I am fortunate to work with a number of adolescent athletes ranging in age from 10-18. While the adolescent is always my primary client, the parents are often just as important. Parents often struggle with how to help their child maximize their potential, while still maintaining their number one priority, which is to be a parent. I often pass along this article written about Doc Rivers (Boston Celtics Head Coach) and how he has stayed away from coaching his son, Austin (10th pick of the 2012 NBA draft). In the article Coach Rivers said, “I’ve been great. I stay out of it, I give him advice about humility. Other than that ... go play basketball. The coaches will coach you and I’ll be your parent.” If one of the greatest coaches in the NBA can learn how to separate his role as a parent and his role as a coach, then every doctor, lawyer, and businessman/woman should strive to do the same with their children.
Every client I have ever worked with has had parents who show these three characteristics:
- Support: I have never worked with an adolescent client who doesn’t have parental support. The reason my phone rings from a parent is almost always a result of the parent’s desire to support their child. While the motives often vary, the common thread is always support.
- Challenge: Good parents almost always challenge their children to be better. A parent’s job is to teach their child morals, hard work, and to ensure that they don’t settle for anything but their best.
- Embarrass: No matter the age or environment, parents will always embarrass their children in one-way or another. It exists in every parent-child relationship and there’s no way around it. Embarrassment, intentional or not, is a part of being a parent.
With these three characteristics spelled out as “standards” amongst parents, it’s important to figure out which of them a parent should direct most of their attention to.
Support is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child, and that’s exactly what parents need to focus on when interacting with their adolescent athlete. Taking a supportive role and letting the coaches be in charge of challenging the child, will allow the child to enjoy their sport, learn from their sport, and give them the best opportunity to be successful. Coaches inherently are supposed to challenge, so as Doc said, “the coaches will coach, and I’ll be your parent.” So parents should make sure to support, coaches should make sure to challenge, and children will let the parent know they are embarrassing them. Trust me, I told my parents last night.