I have always loved watching elite athletes. I can remember since I was 6 or 7 my dad would call me in to watch Muhamad Ali, or Sugar Ray Leonard boxing. It was mandatory to watch all the track and field during the Summer Olympics. My first sports hero was Bruce Jenner. I was only 8 when he won the gold medal in the Montreal Olympics in the decathlon. A lot has changed since then, for both Bruce and I, but I am still just as fascinated by what makes people champions.
I’ve always wanted to be the best possible version of myself. I love coaching and helping others do the same, some of which I do through my energy drink company Nanohydr8, but nothing brings me more joy than to help my own kids achieve their full potential.
Few things bring me more joy than to see a young kid push themselves to achieve something great. My favorite time of the day is coaching football practice for my son’s 8th grade football team.
Parents don’t get much cooler than the ones I am blessed with. My Mom is a certified genius, who was a stay at home mom most of my life and after we grew up, she became the director of an advanced learning and behavior school.
She spent countless hours with us as kids. I still remember the names of every state and capital because of the mnemonic devices she used to imprint them into my mind.
My Dad was always willing to play and teach me every detail of everything he knew.
He was the track coach for the Air Force Academy when I was a kid, and I loved going with him and watch him coach the athletes at the Academy.
He included me in everything he could. He still checks in on me to hear how things are going almost every day. He came down to my room every night as a kid and I always knew I could tell him and my mom anything.
That’s what I want to focus on today.
A few simple things that I think are absolutely necessary to becoming a great parent are love and accountability.
Love seems obvious. But getting your kids to really feel that love isn’t always so easy.
Some parents make the mistake of thinking that giving their kids everything they want is the best way to show love. Kids might even think they want that. However, making everything easy for your kids can end up really hurting them in the long run and makes it really difficult for them to learn how to accomplish and overcome hard things that will inevitably happen to them in life. So many parents today are so protective of their kids that they never learn to figure things out for themselves or really work hard to accomplish something great.
If you really love your kids, you will help them understand that sometimes they need to push themselves to get out of their comfort zones. That can start at a young age. It’s not always easy. It’s so tempting to just give your kid an iPad or turn on a movie just so they will stop whining and you can have some peace and quiet.
But the best way to show love to your kids is to spend some actual time with them.
Anything from just sitting down and listening to them and asking about their day— Which with teenagers can take some work to get more than a one word answer— to going out and playing catch or shooting some hoops.
Quality time, where you are actually interacting with your kids, is the best way to show your love, and of course, always make sure they hear you tell them you love them. At least once a day. I make sure to go and say goodnight to each kid and give them a kiss on the cheek and tell them I love them every night. I have four kids, and only 1 still lives with us, but if older kids are over, they still get the same treatment.
The second thing is accountability. If you say you’re going to do something, you better do everything possible to make sure it happens the way you said.
This takes practice. You will need to learn which things you are actually willing to do and be sure to follow up.
I remember once when I was a kid, my brother, who at the time, was obsessed with making volcanoes out of vinegar and baking soda, or some weird mixture like that.
Anyway, my mom was getting annoyed with my brother wasting so much vinegar and told my brother to stop making them. He didn’t listen the first time, so my dad said, “Tad, if you make one more of those volcanoes, I’m going to make you drink a cup of that vinegar stuff.”
Well, needless to say, Tad thought he could sneak another test run without my parents finding out.
I’m not exactly sure how my dad did find out. I do have two sisters. I can’t confirm if they ratted him out or not, but when my dad discovered that Tad had mixed another batch, he said,”Tad, what did I tell you was going to happen if you made another volcano?” Tad sheepishly said, “You said you would make me drink it.”
And all I remember after that is my little brother hunched over the toilet bowl, with a cup of vinegar and baking soda in one hand and a string of drool dangling from his bottom lip into the toilet water.
So from a very young age, we knew that if my parents warned us something would happen as a result of our bad behavior, there was a 100% chance of them following through with their warning.
But on the flip side, they also promised rewards for positive behavior and they always came through on those as well.
So we learned very young to be accountable for our actions and that even though we sometimes had to do some tough things and got punished in some unorthodox ways, we also never doubted how much our parents loved us.
I have to keep things pretty simple. So for me, I really try hard to spend time with my kids every day, always do what I say I’m going to do and always show them and tell them I love them.