Dad Duties Part I: Dad as Coach, Counselor and Consultant


There’s a theory out there in the annals of “daddom” that the lifecycle of fathering can be loosely characterized by three major phases; Dad as Coach, Dad as Counselor, and Dad as Consultant. Over the next few posts, I’m going to break these down and look a little bit deeper into each of these “job descriptions.”


Motivational. Inspirational. Teaching. Leadership. These are just a few of the adjectives that capture the essence of being a great coach. I love sports so when I hear the word “coach”, my mind is immediately filled with some of the great coaches in sports history. Guys like Vince Lombardi, George “The Gipper” Gipp, or the legendary George Halas. Then there’s always a local lore that brings my mind back to coaches of my favorite teams. Coaches like Bud Grant of the once dominant (never Super Bowl winning) Minnesota Vikings, Billy Martin of the Minnesota Twins or Murray Warmath of Gopher football fame. No matter who comes to mind for you, every successful coach possesses these traits.

Coaches are motivational. Some of the greatest speeches ever uttered have been shared in the locker room of college and professional sports teams.

Inspiration oozes from their presence. There is a charisma about great coaches that spills onto their teams and allows them to rise above the challenges (well, most of them-Bud Grant was a great coach but a little on the stoic side). Sometimes, that inspiration elevates the team to levels they couldn’t have achieved through pure effort and talent. It’s what Simon Cowell of American Idol calls the “X” factor.

Great coaches are also great teachers. They understand the game and they know how to drill the basics into their teams. Vince Lombardi’s infamous coaching admonition at the beginning of camp each year to his players is a classic example of teaching the basics. “This”, he began, “is a football.” Leadership is a non negotiable.

A great coach is a leader in every sense of the word. He’s the embodiment of his team. Teams take on the character of their coaches, for good or for bad.

Dads are coaches. A family needs a great coaching dad every bit as much as a team needs a great coach to win. Next post I’ll delve a little deeper into how I’ve played this role in my fathering (sometimes good and sometimes not so good J)

SOUND OFF: What do you think about Dad’s playing these roles during the life of your family? Are there more? Less? Different? How have you heard being a Dad described along these lines?


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4 Responses to “Dad Duties Part I: Dad as Coach, Counselor and Consultant”

  1. Phillip Gibb Says:

    Well my son is 19 months old and I felt more like nervous spectator for a while. Now more like protector. But really looking forward to being his coach.
    Teaching him to throw a ball and swing a bat is such fun, but that’s not what you mean by coach 🙂


  2. Jeff Abramovitz Says:

    That’s great. Actually, that’s part of being a coach. Encouraging them into things that they might not otherwise get engaged in and then when they do, teaching them the basics so they get to understand what it means to be taught and how to apply teaching. So many great opportunities even at that young age to be their “coach”. Fun to hear. Thanks for the comment, Phillip.

  3. betty34 Says:

    I agree with you whole heartedly, I am the mother of 2 who wishes that her husband would concider a coaching style role mentality.

    Currently the kids and I are living with a Dad figure who only does/ says nice things to his son when I suggest to him that he do it. He seriously doesn’t understand this concept of spending time doing things with his kids. he thinks that his responsibillyt ends with bringing in a paycheque.

    I have to present ideas to him perpetually so that he and our son can spend time together. If i say why not take him to the shop with you and build something with you, my husband says, the kid doesn’t know how to hit a nail with a hammer, i say teach him. and congradulate him for the work that he does manage to get done! build confidence.

    Instead, our son who is an orange belt in karate, was sparring against an older girl who was 3 belt levels a head, mostly all our son could do was block alot. I thought he fared well!! you know what my husband/his dad said?? so, you got beat up by a girl.

    He just doesn’t get it.

  4. Jeff Abramovitz Says:

    thanks for your reply. I can hear the frustration through your keystrokes. As a husband who’s knowing and unknowingly exasperated my wife plenty of times, I understand how you feel. Unfortunately, the culture we live in is full of dads who want to do the right things and, when they stick around and make an effort, really believe they are doing the right things as often as they can, but it’s not nearly enough for our families. Every man I know would tell you that if they could do it better they would. But, here is where I’m going to ask you to have some grace for your husband. First, many men have have never seen fatherhood modeled well in their lives. Their dad was likely absent or even abusive in one way, shape or form. The most important responsibility a man has societally is to lead his children and without a “teacher” we just expect men to “get it”. It doesn’t happen that way. More importantly, not only do we need an earthly father (or older man’s wisdom) to speak into our lives, we must have the Heavenly Father’s model. If men aren’t centered on God, the best they can do is be the best they can be without being plugged into the real source of all wisdom. That’s my story. I love my dad but he wasn’t there for me to teach me about life. He missed all of my sporting events and most of the big ceremonies that marked my growing into manhood. My stepfather was worse–not a terrible man but he was unclear how to be a father. When I became a follower of Christ at 17, I soon learned that despite the “cards I’d been dealt”, I needed to learn from the one who created life and made the rules to live by (and gave the power to live by them).

    So, I realize that it’s hard to make your husband be what he wasn’t. But, do what my wife did. She prayed often for me. I am convinced that she had as much to do with my getting a few things right as a dad due to her diligent prayer. Start with prayer. Continue to encourage him as you have but remember that before you had children you had each other. As you grow closer together and to God, growth in other areas of life often follow. And, pray for another man who would be a good influence and supporter of your husbands to come along. Most of us men do life alone. That’s when we get into trouble. When we can start to share some deeper moments with a few trusted friends, we no longer ignore the issues that keep surfacing. We learn to deal with them and it’s much easier to do that with a couple of friends to help carry the burden.

    Again, thanks for expressing your heart. I’ll be praying for you both and your family!

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