There are many obstacles to the dual role of parent-coach. Parents worry they will favor their own child. Other children on the team have concerns that the coach’s son or daughter will get more playing time or be shown favoritism in other ways. The child of the parent-coach has her own concerns. How will having my Mom or Dad as coach make thing different for me?
The first time a parent-coach critiques his own child, everyone watches the reaction of the parent-coach child. Most of the time the child reacts negatively, feeling as though she is being chastised in front of her peers more critically. How you address your child’s reaction is critical to the future success of your experience as a parent-coach and to your relationship with your child. This can be an opportunity to strengthen and build your relationship with your child. Most importantly, the parent-coach must communicate to their child that they are treating them in the same way as everyone else on the team. The way to do this is to be consistent. I always say that coaching is like parenting. And one of the things I think is so vital in parenting is consistency. If your child sees that you’re consistent with parameters and boundaries and how you discipline, they will begin to see that it isn’t just about them.
As a parent-coach you have an opportunity to create an even deeper relationship with your own child. I have a good example: One day my stepson said to his mom, Sometimes it feels like when we leave the gym the coaching doesn’t stop and Xavier continues to coach me in the car on the way home. . . . and at the breakfast table or in the car on the way to school. I told my stepson how fortunate we were to have the opportunity to delve deeper into the sport in question so he could get an even greater depth of knowledge about what he was doing, what we were trying to do as a team and what the other players were doing. This is something a parent-coach can share with her own child to help her learn from other kid’s mistakes, from her own mistakes, from her parent’s mistakes. It’s invaluable.
Coaching your own child is a difficult challenge. It can put a lot of stress on the parent-child relationship as well as the coaching-child relationship. It requires a delicate balance and some critical thinking form all parties, with the parent taking the lead. I happen to be a very lucky stepfather. The opportunity to coach my stepson’s team has not only improved and strengthened our relationship, it has improved his knowledge and respect for the game of basketball.