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Protective father vs. coaching father

This article, written by Randy Oakley, was published on page 104 in the book Not By Chance by authors Tim and Roxanne Thayne and available for purchase on Amazon. (Other contributors to the Not By Chance Yearbook include Lee Caldwell, Jason Adams, Mary Alexine, Tony Mosier, Paula Leslie, Tony Alonzo, Jenny Heckman, Shane Gallagher, Lucy Pritzker, Dan Stuart, Randy Oakley, Jared Balmer, Jon Worbets, Ken Newell, Kim Buczkowski).

Parents are also encouraged to check out as an additional resource.

Parents can find other recommended parent resources by looking the parent resource page.

(All pictures are from the actual trip described below)

While I'm not overly expressive about it, my kids are always on my mind.  And, even though I'm over 50 years old, my mother still likes to know how I am doing and where I am.

Being a parent doesn't go away at 18 years old; it's a lifetime calling. 

A few years ago, I took my kids with me on a college women's basketball team building retreat to go mountain biking in Moab, Utah.  The trails in Moab are considered world class! And, as world-class trails come obstacles and risk. The experience is life changing but one wrong move could cause a trip to the hospital. Professionally speaking, I have used experiential educational models safely for years with other people's children but when comes to my own children, my guard goes up even higher. 

About four miles into our trail ride one day, we came to an obstacle where I stopped the group.  I took the time to teach some advanced mountain biking skills, showed them how to ride through the obstacle successfully. And, invited anybody that wanted to walk their bike instead of riding it, to do so. This group was a Division 1, women's college basketball team. Their level of self-drive and competition was high. None of them walked their bikes. 

One by one, I would stand there and coach them through the obstacle. "OK, keep your eyes up. Feel the bike flow under you. Pedals parallel to the ground. Butts back, 40% front brake pressure and 60% pressure on the back break. You got this!" 

Several of them didn't make it the first try and would return back up the hill to try it again. In some cases, a third and even fourth try was necessary. At one point, the first aid kit came out to bandage up a skinned knee and elbow. These college athletes were laughing and loving the experience. Years later, they still talk about it. 

And then, as a father, I was taught a lesson. My daughter looked at me and said, "Why don't you believe in me?" Something inside of me said, you are right, it's not like you are going to ride off a cliff or something."

I stepped back. And, I went from a protective father who didn't believe his daughter could work through a challenge to a coaching father who treated her just like I did the other college athletes. Three tries and a bandage later, she mastered the obstacle to the high fives and cheers of the whole group!  

The simple experience changed my parenting.  To this day, I stay up at night until the kids are home. I still check in on my adult children regularly just like my mom checks in on me to this day. And, never again will I have my kids feel like I don't believe in them. Unless of course, they are about to go off a cliff. 


Randy Oakley and his wife Lara are the parents of 6 children. Over the years, 36 foster children and over 20 young adults have also been blessed by living in Randy's home. Randy's passion with non-profit work, education as well as founding multiple young adult programs both in the United States and abroad all point to the love and service of benefit others.

Dr. Tim Thayne and his wife Roxanne are the proud parents of five children. Tim is a well established published author, public speaker and founder of multiple organizations that serve youth and families. Please take a chance to learn more about Tim and his work by clicking on the links below:

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