Tuesday, January 24, 2012

5 Parenting Lessons from the Baltimore Ravens

Photo from Al Bello/Getty Images
As I watched the Baltimore Ravens hold Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in check for the majority of the game on Sunday evening, I thought to myself, "What am I going to blog about on Tuesday?"  I considered a follow up to last Friday's post but thought it would be too short (I never got sick. The End.).  I pondered the possibility of posting about how my toddler did something amazing, but it probably isn't that amazing, and I always write about that stuff.  I watched the end of the game as Billy Cundiff missed the 32 yard field goal to send the game to overtime, I thought to myself, "Self, this is a good life lesson."

Plan for Success/Execute the Plan

There is no doubt that the Ravens had a plan for success against the Patriots.  One of the reasons that Tom Brady is so good is that he confuses defenses by mobilizing his offense and throwing off their coverages.  When people start moving around, opposing defenses get nervous and forget their job.  The Ravens obviously planned to stay in their zones and not play man coverage.  They were not rattled by Brady, and therefore, he was not able to exploit their defense like he usually does.

Now when it comes to parenting, and just life in general, I'm as laid back and free-spirited as anyone.  However, one of the things that I have learned is that a little planning goes a long way.  Life is always good at trying to confuse you by making things hectic.  Have a game plan with your parenting partner or with your child about how you are going to attack your day/week/month.  TALK about what is going on, and make sure that everyone is on the same page.  Set some goals for what you hope to accomplish and share them with each other.  Once you have a plan in place, execute the plan as best you can.  Evaluate your progress and talk about alternative solutions.  Use the SMARTER goal setting system to help you clearly define what you want to accomplish.

Work as a Team

When the Ravens are playing their best football, they are not a one-sided team.  They give themselves the best opportunity to win when they can be successful on both offense AND defense.  When the line is opening up lanes for Ray Rice and holding off defenders from Joe Flacco, their offense is great.  When the defense stops the run and comes up with the big plays against the pass, they are pretty unstoppable.  If one of these factors does not happen, the team looks terrible.

As parents, you have to be on the same page with your spouse or partner, and not only that, sometimes you have to listen to your kids and work with them where they are at the moment.  COMMUNICATE with your family and make sure you are always working as a team.  My wife and I tend to do very well with this, and we know when the other person needs a break just because we are able to read the signs.  This helps cut down on the stress from home life, and more importantly, it helps us make the most of the time that we have together as a family.  Isn't it always a little embarrassing when you aren't on the same page?  Especially in public!

Give Those in Your Care the Best Chance to Succeed

A lot of Ravens fans do not like Cam Cameron.  Sometimes his play calling does not make sense.  But in the game against the Patriots, he made adjustments when things were not working on offense.  Ray Rice was having trouble running the ball, and instead of continuing to call predictable, stoppable plays (like he did the week before) he started calling pass plays on first down.  That opened up the line for Ray Rice to run on second down.  Cam gave his player the best chance to succeed.

An example of the coaches not giving their player the best chance to succeed came with 15 seconds left in the game.  Facing a fourth down and one yard to go, they send in the kicker to try to tie the game.  Because it took them so long to decide, and because the kicker was not ready, there were only a few seconds left on the play clock.  The kicker RAN (kickers never run) onto the field and had to quickly set up for a field goal in one of the most high-pressure situations in all of professional sports.  Why didn't his coach call a timeout to give him some time to compose himself?  Did they really think Tom Brady was going to air it out with eleven seconds left from that deep in his own side of the field and risk an Ed Reed pick-six?  Call the time out, especially if there is a malfunctioning scoreboard that is causing your kicker to be late to the field.

If you don't work with your child's schedule when you plan out your day, you are setting yourself up for failure.  If your child normally naps at noon, don't make a doctor's appointment for eleven.  You'll be facing a meltdown.  In the same way, if you don't talk to your spouse before you make an important decision, you are bound to hear about it later.  Do your best to set yourself and your family up for success.   

Failure Happens

Billy Cundiff was 16 for 16 on fourth quarter field goal attempts over the last two years.  But those stats didn't matter; he shanked the field goal try, and the Ravens lost the game.  The look of utter disappointment on the faces of the Ravens players and coaches, along with the sadness felt by every disappointed fan at home was carried off of the field on the shoulders of that kicker.  He failed to make what amounts to a chip-shot with everything on the line, and he had to go back to the locker room and face his team.  Hey, Billy, there's always next year.

Photo Credit: NFL.com
It happens.  People are human, and they will fail.  Prepare yourself for failure by considering it as a possibility beforehand.  That way, if it does happen, you're not surprised and you won't react out of pure emotion.  Someone forgot to pick up milk on the way home?  No big deal.  Somebody forgot to move the wet laundry to the dryer?  No worries.  It happens.  Your child brought home a bad grade on a paper?  Don't blow up at them.  If you have expectations that are so high that they are never met, you are letting yourself and your family down.  Your children will resent you and your partner will look for praise elsewhere.  Parents need to take a second to think about the damage they can do when they blow up if expectations are not met.  Set them up for success and praise them when they come through the next time.    

When You Fail, Help Each Other Up and Look Out for One Another

Immediately following the game, I did not hear a single Raven (other than Billy Cundiff himself) blame the kicker for losing that game.  They did what professionals do, and they took the loss as a team.  In the days that have followed, I still have not heard a single Ravens player blame Cundiff for the loss.  They have talked about his past successes and talked about other weak points of the team during the game.  I'm sure that Cundiff appreciates this while fully expecting that the Ravens will bring in some competition for his job next summer.

When someone in your family fails, you pick them up.  Be the one that they can look to for encouragement.  Everyone needs that voice of praise occasionally, and the first place you should be able to expect to hear it is from your family.  That is what family is all about - sticking together.  Look out for people that are trying to attack other members of your family.  Watch for bullies at work and at school.  Keep an eye out for the coach that is too tough on the kids.  Help your child deal with his or her limitations and failures.  Forgive and forget; and don't forget to teach.  


  1. Here's a good example of your final lesson: Ray Lewis talking about working as a team and not calling out Billy Cundiff --


    (I'm a lifelong Steelers fan so it wasn't my natural inclination to drop that link, but Ray showed a lot of class after the game.)

  2. So sad that one moment can define an otherwise GREAT career. 16 for 16 in previous attempts is AMAZING. Good for him and may he have a Hall of Fame continued career!

  3. @Mark - Thanks for sharing that video! And since you didn't talk trash, I won't direct this at you. But there are a lot of trash talking Steelers fans (and at least one Cleveland Browns fan, sorry dude) that read this blog, so here is what I had to say to them - "At least we were there, and at least we didn't lose to Tebow!"

    @Bruce - I know you aren't really into many sports that don't involve skis, so thanks for taking the time to read. I don't think he will ever be a Hall of Famer, but I do hope he does well - especially since he's still under contract with the Ravens for next year!

  4. I don't know if you saw the interview Cundiff gave after the game. He actually talked about this moment as a teaching lesson for his kids about how to deal with failure. Then he started to cry. I couldn't hate him after that...

  5. @BloggerFather - Hey, there's that lost comment! I agree, that was a great moment for Fatherhood.



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