Stand Tall and Coach Your Kids’ Character


Are you being intentional about coaching your children to become people of strong character?

Responsibility. Commitment. Forgiveness. Leadership. Brotherhood. And yes, a good dose of football thrown in.

I’m describing some key ideas from the movie, When the Game Stands Tall. It is certainly a great football movie, but it’s so much more.

This movie is based on the true story of De La Salle High School’s football program, which won 151 games in a row—the longest winning streak in sports history. But unlike a lot of sports movies, the focus is what happens after the winning streak is over, and how the coaches and players deal with all the questions and adversities.

What really impressed me is how Coach Ladouceur focuses on the young men’s character even more than their performance on the field. He is very much aware that winning football games really isn’t “winning” if the players aren’t also developing as young men.

More than the final score, the coach’s focus is more on his players supporting each other, playing together, being selfless, handling challenges, and sacrificing for the cause. It just so happens that those virtues very often lead to winning on the field.

Now, I’m not just promoting a movie today. As fathers, coaching is one of the key fundamentals of Championship Fathering, according to our research.

My challenge for you today is: Are you being intentional about coaching your children to be people of strong character?

A coach organizes daily practices with purposeful activities to help each player grow while shaping his team into a cohesive, well-prepared unit. He identifies the gifts and strengths of each player, and areas where they might need extra training. He sets each player up for success.

Have you given some real thought and effort to nurturing your kids in a similar way?

One great question to ask yourself is: How can I help prepare my child for life? Maybe there are lessons you learned the hard way—about money, relationships, or work ethic, or faith. Find a way to share a nugget or two of wisdom with your kids.

Here’s another one to ask yourself to keep you motivated: A few years from now, when someone stops you on the street and says, “I know your son” or “I know your daughter,” how do you want them to finish that sentence?

I would challenge you to think about your legacy every day. What lasting or even eternal values are you investing in your children today?

Like a good coach, use teachable moments when real life is happening to briefly draw your child’s attention to a larger lesson or virtue that’s in front of you.

How are you coaching your kids in these areas, dad? See the action points below for more practical ideas.

One great idea would be to see When the Game Stands Tall with your kids this weekend, and then start a discussion on some of the virtues that the movie highlights.

Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • Teaching your kids character starts with your own modeling of integrity. Be above reproach in your daily transactions and always tell the truth.
  • View your child’s mistake or minor crisis as a priceless opportunity for him or her to learn. Instead of staying in your chair and telling him what to do from across the room, get up and calmly devote some time and energy to engaging your child helping to make the learning happen.
  • How do you want your kids to remember you? As a hard worker? A humorous dad? A fix-it man? Write down those qualities and then do something every day to build that legacy.
  • When a teachable moment comes along, keep your “teaching” short and simple. Point out a life truth that is readily apparent, and trust that your child will grasp it for future use.
  • Be teachable yourself—willing to learn from others and willing to admit that you don’t have all the answers.
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