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Tony and Lauren Dungy: Get Involved, Stay Involved

Ganda At

Know someone who says they're too busy to spend time with their kids?  Tell them about Tony Dungy.  He led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl win in 2007.  He took his teams to the playoffs for ten consecutive years.  He even won a Super Bowl himself when he played with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1978.  And yet he says that being a father is his most important job.  How's that for knowing your priorities?

Now he and his beautiful wife Lauren Dungy are working with Family First, All Pro Dad and iMOM to encourage parental participation.  They were the featured speakers this morning at the National PTA Convention.  With seven kids, they know what they're talking about.  Here are 5 key learnings they shared with us:

  1. Hey guys, getting involved isn't just for moms. Tony: "In my mind, PTA was a bunch of ladies who got together to talk about school.  But really, there are plenty of men involved in the PTA -- just not enough men, not as many as we need."
  2. Your older kids may say they don't need you -- but they do.  Lauren: "Parental involvement goes down as kids ages go up.  By the time they get to middle school, participation drops to 75%.  And by the time they get to high school, it drops to 52%."
  3. Be there for your kids, even if it means laying down the law in a way may not like. They may not be happy about it now, but they'll look back and appreciate it later. Tony: "Our 25-year-old, she's a little happier now about how we raised her than she might have been when she was 15 or 16." 
  4. Overachievers -- remember that your kid is not like your job.  Reinforce the positive.  Tony: "With my coaching background, we're always critiquing.  You have to learn to compliment more."
  5. There's no practice game for parenting.  You're going to make mistakes.  Even Super Bowl-winning coaches and Family First reps aren't immune.  Have the Dungys made mistakes?  Tony: "Everyday, everyday."  Lauren: "We're not perfect, we're parents.  You practice from experience."  

More resources:

All Pro Dad: A fatherhood program of Family First featuring almost 60 NFL players, coaches and alumni who encourage men to be good fathers with the most read daily fatherhood e-mail in the world and father/child events.

iMOM: A motherhood program of Family First giving moms tools for opening up communication lines.