You and Your Coaching Network
“March Madness,” I’ve been known to say, “does not refer to basketball. It’s what happens with mental health.”
Nearly every March it occurs – a spike in phone calls requesting therapy. Maybe it’s the cold, dreary, gray days filled with rain or snow. Maybe it’s the way hope rises with a sprinkling of days containing sun and warmth, only to be dashed once again when the thermometer dips into the 20’s. There’s little doubt that the month of March can be a challenging time of year, not just for basketball coaches but also for any of us – including dads.
Stress can come in many ways over and above the weather. Although we can’t change the weather or some of our circumstances, it is important to learn to deal with it in a healthy way. Whether it’s pressure from players on a team or members of one’s family, the ways in which one copes with stress matters. Just as coaches rely on their coaching staff to manage stressful situations, good dads learn to manage stress well by relying on their partner and/or on their support network.
A good coach understands the importance of allowing others to help him guide his team to a successful season.
Even the best coach in the world wouldn’t dream of running a team all by himself. On one professional sports team alone, you’ll see a head coach, assistant coaches, athletic trainers, defensive and offensive coaches, sports psychologist, and many others relying on each other to make the team the best it can be.
Good dads understand the importance of building and maintaining a supportive network of relationships to help them help their families.
Fathers are no different. Even the best father in the world cannot raise his children by himself. There is more truth to the old African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child,” than many realize. The proverb means an entire community of people must provide for and interact positively with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. Identifying your coaching support network – that is, the people in your village – is crucial for your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of your kids.
Mothers are almost always a crucial part of the coaching team.
Whether or not you are married to the mother of the children, she is a crucial part of the coaching team. If you can never seem to get along (whether or not you live together) you create a lot of stress for you and your child. Good fathers do all they can to have a positive relationships with the mothers of their children, including getting professional help if necessary. It’s not always possible, but cultivating a good relationship with your child’s other parent can greatly reduce the stress for everyone.
It’s not always easy to maintain a network for supportive relationships, especially for men.
It can be difficult to maintain a support network in today’s busy world. Studies show that men tend to have flourishing friendships through adolescence and early adulthood, but the number of meaningful relationships a man has declines as he gets older.
Men can have meaningful relationships, but many suffer from loneliness. There are a number of barriers to maintaining a support network such as being occupied with work or raising children. Many circumstances can cause men to push their social wellbeing to the sidelines, but the consequences of neglecting this part of a man’s life include an increased disposition to depression or suicidal thoughts.
A dad’s support network is one of the most important tools he has.
A dad’s support network is one of the most important tools he has. He may need help in a variety of circumstances, including tangible help (e.g. babysitting, asking for money, getting a ride), emotional support (e.g. advice or a shoulder to lean on) or help in emergencies.
The decision of who to approach for help is a difficult one. The people in your life are members of your “village” and care about your wellbeing and the wellbeing of your children. People who don’t know you, don’t know your children, or who don’t have your best interests at heart usually are not a good choice to ask for help.
Asking for Help
It can also be difficult to ask for help because of the unease that comes with surrendering control of your life to another person. Many people fear asking for help could imply that they are weak, incompetent or naïve. You might fear being rejected or being made a fool.
Finding constructive ways to ask for help can make being a good dad more manageable. Studies support the notion that asking for help is the strong and healthy thing to do. It does not make someone weak. To find help in the right places, it is important to maintain a support system of relationships with others. Contact Good Dads to learn how our new course, Fundamentals of Fatherhood, can help you do just that.