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Playbook Parenting

By Candee Fick
Guest Writer

CBN.comStorms are raging all around.  The economy, war in Iraq, upcoming election, and cultural messages combine with stress at work, busy schedules, and sibling rivalry to bombard my family from outside and within.

Jesus told the story of a man who built his home on a rock-solid foundation.  When the storms came, his house stood strong.  I’d like my family to have a firm foundation so we can weather the storms of life, but what does that look like?  I asked God for wisdom and He used an example from the game of football to teach me how to coach our home team.

Long before the season starts, my football-coaching husband is busy working with his staff, developing a team philosophy and playbook, and attending rule review meetings. This extensive preparation gives a solid foundation for the team before they enter a season of conflict on the field. 

Could similar preparations help my family and yours?

Authority Structure

On the coaching staff, there is only one head coach who makes the final decisions and is ultimately accountable for the team.  The job is too big for one coach alone, so the head coach has others to help.  The head coach and the assistant coaches do many of the same things like teaching players techniques or plays and correcting problems.  Yet, there is also a division of labor as different ones order equipment, fix helmets during a game, tape injuries, and exchange game films.  They have regular meetings as a staff and communicate with headsets during the games.

In our family, there are two parents (or coaches) but my husband is the one with the final decisions.  We work together and do many of the same things by disciplining and teaching our three young children.  We also do different things as I balance the checkbook and handle cleaning and cooking, while my husband handles the yard work and vehicle maintenance.

We also try to meet regularly to discuss how things are going and see if anything is being left undone.  While we don’t have headsets, communication is very important so we can be in agreement, especially when the kids try to play us against each other.

Who is the head coach in your family?  How have you divided the responsibilities?  How well do you communicate?


The head coach and staff develop a philosophy for the team’s offense and defense.  They design plays around whether they are a running or passing offense or a blitzing defense.  They set goals for the team’s season including what impact they want to have on their league standings.  The philosophy, plays, and goals are communicated to the players through the playbook and team meetings.

In our family, we also have a philosophy of parenting.  What do we want to be known for?  What impact do we want to have on the world around us?  What is our parenting style and does it take into account the different personalities in our family?  God gave our playbook, the Bible, to us and our responsibility is to put it into action within our home. 

Even with the same playbook, our family looks different than yours.  For example, one “play” is to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Some families may focus on the sibling who lives in the room next door while others may focus on those who live on their street.  One family might volunteer at a local homeless shelter while another goes on mission trips together.  One may adopt a family at Christmas, and another may send care packages to an orphanage.  Yet, all are teaching the same truth.

What is your family’s game plan?  What are your goals and how will you achieve them?  How are you teaching life’s playbook?

Rules and Consequences

Long before the football season starts, the rules of the game are established with clear consequences.  Leagues have meetings with coaches to point out any changes and to clarify what the rule means.  During the game, referees try to enforce the rules consistently.

In our family, we also establish rules and need to have clear consequences in place long before an incident happens.  We communicate the rules and consequences to our children and then enforce them consistently.  With the consequences already set, there is no guesswork involved about what to do when the kids cross the line.  Hopefully our family rules stem from the foundational boundaries God already established in our playbook. 

What are your family rules?  Are there clear consequences so your kids aren’t surprised?  Do you consistently enforce them?

It takes time to work through these foundational decisions.  However, once we have this foundation established, we will be ready to weather the storms of life that rage around our family. 

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Candee Fick is the mother of three children, including one with special needs.  She is the author of Pigskin Parables: Reflections of a Football Widow (Tate Publishing, 2007), which explores more life lessons from the game of football.  She and her husband Clint are CBN partners and make their home in Loveland, Colorado.

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