Kate Roberts Ph.D.

Savvy Parenting

10 Essential Parenting Tips From the New England Patriots

Teachable moments from the NE Patriots deflategate fiasco to the Super Bowl Win

Posted Feb 06, 2015


Now that the Super Bowl has past, it's a good time to reflect on the pre-Superbowl-deflagate controvery; where media and Patriots foes alike accused the Patriots of being outright cheaters with no evidence to back the allegations. This wasn't the first time the Patriots were in the spotlight for apparent wrongdoing; the Spygate drama remains fresh in the minds of many Patriots rivals. So while the Patriots attempted to bask in the glory of their tremendous AFC victory over the Colts, their opponents were dredging up old news and creating new disputes.

The frenzy that followed the accusations against the recent superbowl champions is too good to be ignored as a teachable moment.  For parents this is an opportunity to get children’s attention easily and to talk about real issues. The lessons here apply just as much to outstanding athletes and students in grade school as they do to the Patriots. Parents can use these examples to show children that their actions matter, even when they believe they aren’t in the wrong and even when they think they did everything right.

In other words,children need to learn sometimes that the perception of others defines reality — that is, if people allow that to happen. Here are some teaching points:

1. Rumors hurt. Who knows what really happened? And until the puzzle of the balls was solved, rumors only make the situation worse. It’s best to reserve judgment of others until the facts are known.

2. Being in the spotlight makes you an easy target. Children who are exceptional in any way have to know how to manage this. They should at least be aware of what will make them a target and what will help them to fit in. People are more alike then they are different, and even very talented people and talented kids need to look for common ground. This will allow them to be judged fairly in the midst of controversy.

3. Read with caution. What happened to the football pressure  during the AFC games yet to be determined, but in the interim, the Patriots received a very negative rap through social media. Today, word spreads within seconds on the web, and anyone can say anything. Who even knows what’s true? We have to inform children that they should be cautious about what they read and hear from others who are quoting the web. It’s important to teach kids not to participate in the media frenzy and to be informed consumers of information.

4. Mistakes are hard to live down. Previous poor decisions, even many years ago, re-emerged and people were quick to judge based on past behavior. No mistake that can be avoided should be underestimated in terms of damage, especially in our current web-driven culture.

5. Rules have to be followed. We don’t know how high the stakes are, especially for those who are already in the spotlight. It never pays to cheat. We may never know what happened to those footballs, but the reality is that they were the correct size during the second half and the Patriots outplayed their opponents. If they did cheat by deflating the balls, they didn’t need to —  and now all these questions are distracting from their true talents. Having integrity and playing by the rules is more important than winning, and this situation exemplifies that.

6. Humility and humanness are important. We can teach our children to be humble, and here’s a perfect example of how this characteristic can make a difference in perception. Showing human qualities and being humble makes exceptional people more relatable and, therefore, more forgivable. Being aloof does not win support.

7. Be nonreactive. Some things, even when you think you are doing everything right, can’t be controlled. Becoming too reactive only makes the problem bigger. Teaching children strategies for stress management will come in handy when a real storm emerges from seemingly nowhere.

8. Keep goals in the forefront. The deflatgate controversy did not delay the Super Bowl. The best team won, and being scrutniized before the big game was not be an acceptable excuse for poor performance.

9. Understand jealousy. People will always find fault with those who are exceptional; it is best to be prepared.

10. Take responsibility. Making mistakes in judgment is one thing, but how you deal with them defines a true champion.

The Super Bowl has come and  gone and how the Patriots managed themsleves in the face of the pregame accusations, slander and adversity should be appaulded and emulated. How people respond under scrutiny and stress will define them for a long time after the controversy is over. In the end, it really is about how you play and not whether you win or lose. The Patriots win Sunday was a victory on many levels and parents and children can learn from watching them play the game of life while being awed by their outstanding football.

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