It’s one of my favorite times of the year—football season! I love watching the Tigers play football on Saturdays. I especially love when I hear those first few notes of the Chinese Bandits song coming from the Golden Band from Tiger Land. It gives me chills just thinking about it! For those of you who are not Tiger fanatics like me, you only hear this when LSU has made a defensive stop and prevented the other team from scoring.
You see, much of my life has revolved around some athletic event or another. My sister was a college athlete, and I spent hours upon hours of my life enjoying her basketball games. I grew up playing softball and my brother played baseball. My family gathered every Saturday in the fall to watch our beloved Tigers play on Tigervision. My children have played soccer and tee-ball. I enjoy sports, and I enjoy watching a team with an excellent defense because I know a good defense wins games!
As parents, my husband Jay and I are in a zone defense when it comes to our kids. They outnumber us two to one. We were able to double team our first child and rarely did he fall down without one of us catching him first. We skipped over playing man-to-man defense since we went from one child to four, but for those of you with two parents and two kids, you’re playing man-to-man in case you didn’t know! Yes, defense doesn’t just apply to the sports arena. Defense applies to parenting as well!
Defense is defined as protecting your goal. This got me thinking. What is my goal for my children? What values and hopes and dreams are we trying to defend? Personally, I’d like for my children to grow up to be kind, hard-working, productive citizens who follow Christ. On paper, this sounds easy enough to achieve, but in real life it’s something that takes lots of practice and patience. Let’s break it down play-by-play.
Being Kind: Every day before the kids get on the bus, I tell them I love them and to be kind to others. It’s important to me that my children treat others with kindness. But words are not enough here. There are days when my husband Jay and I disagree with one another. It’s hard to disagree with your spouse and still exude kindness. Jay and I try really hard to be fair to one another during disagreements. Think about the internet. Have you read the comments under local news stories? Of course, everyone is allowed to have a difference of opinion, but I only pay attention to those that disagree in a respectful manner. As a law student, I always admired my classmates that argued with grace and respect. Children are going to make mistakes and have moments where they are not kind to one another. As parents, you’re going to disagree sometimes. My goal is to teach my children that there is a better way to behave and disagree. In the end, kindness counts!
Being a hard-working, productive citizen: I didn’t grow up wealthy. Early on in my life, it was instilled in me that I was going to have to work hard to accomplish things. For example, if I wanted to go to college, I was going to have to work hard to earn scholarship money. If I wanted to go to college and do extracurricular things like join a sorority, I was going to have to get a job and a scholarship. My drive to do better was built out of necessity, and I worry that my children may not know that drive to really work hard. One thing that I am proud of is that I will not let my children quit. If we sign up for soccer and they hate it, it’s just too bad until the end of the season. Life isn’t always perfect, and quitting shouldn’t be your go-to option. I’ve seen my children actually enjoy things more as the season progresses because they get better with practice. I have my mom to thank for this lesson. I think it made me a harder worker as an adult. To me, giving back to your community with your abilities is important, and it’s a goal I’m willing to defend.
Follower of Christ: Our faith is very important to us, but we didn’t go to church for a long time. You see, we had these triplets and a toddler, and it was not the easiest thing to do. We always prayed before meals. We went to church on Christmas and Easter. We said prayers at bedtime, but it wasn’t enough. In football terms, we were an average defense here. We decided to step up our game and found a church home. Our kids started going to Sunday School and coming out knowing more about the Bible than we did. We still have a long way to go in our faith, but it’s nice to see us truly trying to protect this goal.
My parenting defense is not perfect by any means. There are days that I “lose” and don’t give it my best. Then there are other days when I’ve played my best! But the important thing to remember is that I am trying to improve. So, the next time you’re watching the Tigers play, think about your goal as a parent. Think about what type of defense you’re running to protect that goal. Because, as the old saying goes, “Defense wins championships!” And, as Coach O says, “Geaux Tigers!”