Monday, September 20, 2010

“Anybody that makes their kids a first priority deserves a lot of credit” – says Tony Dungy

This is cross-posted at the NYC Dad's group

Tony Dungy is an involved guy. He’s coached a Super Bowl Champion, he’s mentored Michael Vick as he came out from prison, and when he left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he even almost left coaching altogether to work in prison ministry. His latest project, All Pro Dad, may be his most ambitious effort yet. He’s trying to change dads.

All Pro Dad is an effort to get all dads to be more involved in the lives of their children, and children in the community. Their website is full of information for dads on how to make the most out of the time they have with kids, and there are events all over the country that help bring dads closer to their kids.

In collaboration with Campbell’s Chunky Soup, Dungy and Jerome Bettis were in Times Square this morning to launch the Campbell’s Chunky Soup All Pro Dad’s Pledge. This is an effort to get all dads to promise to spend at least one dinner a week with their kids (no cell phones), and get outside for exercise once a week as well.

For other Stay-at-home-Dads like me, that’s not much of a challenge, but it’s a great reminder to book time specific for your kids. You can take the Campbell’s Chunky Soup All Pro Dad’s Pledge here.

I got a chance to speak with Coach Dungy a little about fatherhood. “I think you want to see your kids get on the right track and Dads are so important in terms of that” he said. For SAHDs he added that “it’s great to have that time to be with your kids. Then it’s what lessons I am going to teach them. I’m here and that’s great, but how am I going to show them how much I love them and get them to know the important things in life? That’s what it’s all about.”

Most of us have that challenge of not being able to spend enough time with your kids and not being able to be at the important events in their life. The thing that you have to be able to do is show them when I am there how important they are to me.

When you are coaching a football team you have 53 players and they are all like your kids. They are all different and you can’t treat everyone the same. They all have different issues, different problems, they respond to praise differently, they respond to criticism differently, and the big thing is getting to know your players and it’s the same thing as a parent.

You have to know your children and know what makes them tick. What’s going on with kids emotionally, what’s going on in their lives affects their performance in school and everywhere else. So you can’t just coach your player on the day of the game you gotta know what’s going on in his life.

While I can clearly get behind the ideas of supporting involved dads, I should add that All Pro Dad is part of Family First, a group whose mission is to “is to strengthen the family by establishing family as a top priority in people's lives and by promoting principles for building marriages and raising children.” All Pro Dad and Family First link their sites to Focus on the Family, an organization which has been in the news quite often in its attempt to define family and marriage in “traditional” terms.

We can all respect everyone’s beliefs on these ideas; however, it is important to recognize that many of our groups’ members (and in fact by some definitions, all of our members) do not live in “traditional” families.

I enjoy the wide range and diversity of our SAHD group members and have found a great community of involved fathers in all shapes, sizes, attitudes… and sexual orientations. We are in fact strengthened by the presence of all of these voices. Dungy’s efforts with fathers are commendable, but perhaps this is something he can learn from our group – and get behind the support of all of us, straight or gay.

A good dad is a good dad.

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