If anyone is worth reaching out to for some tips on being a dad, it’s Philip Rivers. The Chargers quarterback and his wife Tiffany had their eighth kid back in October, and are juggling that whole NFL thing along with the fact that they have eight dang kids. Parenting is never easy, but the Rivers family has gotten better about freaking out when they need to, and staying calm when things are not such a big deal. If practice makes perfect, that many children will offer up a whole lot of practice.
With Father’s Day coming up this weekend, we figured it’d be a good time to catch up with Rivers to see what he’s doing with Gillette, get his tips on being a dad, and ask him some of the best advice he’s received from his own father along the way.
Don’t be afraid to ask dad for help – Parenting isn’t instinctual. Sure that nurturing thing is important, and the preservation instinct will kick in. But love isn’t going to tell you what to do if the kids are fighting, or if you don’t know what that weird rash is (although maybe having a doctor on the speed dial too won’t hurt).
“I still ask my dad for help even at 35 years old,” Rivers says. “He taught me how to shave, tie a tie, mow the grass, and throw a football. Even now I’ll call him to ask him about something. His opinion still matters, and I care about it. There’s something special about that advice and love you can only get from your dad.”
So the next time you’re wondering what this means or how to do this, parenting or otherwise, sometimes your pops is the best first call.
Everything matters – We’re always moving so fast. I get caught up in it. You get caught up in it. And we’re juggling a bunch of things, answering a work email while we’re out with our friends, or checking your phone when your kids are playing. We’re only human. But Rivers really thinks what makes a difference for him, especially in his hectic life where he’ll be on the road as much as he is, and the grind of the NFL lifestyle, is to be present whenever he can, and to treat everything from a tea party with his girls to a school recital like it’s the most important thing in the world.
And he’s trying to teach his kids that same mindset, trying as much as he can to lead by example in the process.
“Whether it be a math test, a homework assignment, or just shooting baskets,” Rivers says. “Everything matters. If you’re going to do it, and you’re going to shoot three-pointers today, then try to make all of them. The biggest thing I’ve learned as a dad is that kids want our time, more than anything. Sometimes the time is limited, and that’s just what it is. We have days, long weekends, but even if it’s just 10 minutes one day, if you really give them that 10 minutes, that’s the most valuable thing we can give them.”
Obviously it’s a learning experience, and each kid needs to be treated differently because every kid has his or her own unique personality and outlook, but if you really are active in the moment, and listen to them, and are engaged, they’ll notice that. And it will make a difference.
Always bring an extra diaper – Obviously this only applies to folks with kids who still haven’t mastered that potty training stage yet, but Rivers swears by it. Whatever they’re doing, or wherever they’re going, he always makes sure to throw a diaper or two in the back pocket of his jeans. Seems like common sense, like how I always have Chapstick with me everywhere I go.
Teamwork matters, but so does communication – The parenting dynamic isn’t easy. And there are going to be long nights, challenging discussions, difficult situations, and times when you’re just getting no dang sleep at all. Rivers has said trying to be something he’s not hasn’t worked. He’s the talker, and Tiffany is the quiet one who doesn’t want to speak up, and each of the kids takes on one or the other, so when there are issues with the kids, it’s important to keep that in mind.
“I’m more of the talk through things kind of guy,” Rivers says. “Whether it’s a disciplinary situation or whatever, I want to sit and discuss it for 10 minutes. I want to get it solved right away, but my wife wants to wait on it. We laugh about it now because some of the kids want to hold still, and they don’t want to talk about it. I’m over here just trying to get it resolved, but they aren’t hearing it.”
I’d be curious to hear what some of Rivers’ teammates feel about this. I can’t imagine all of them want to sit and work every little issue out, but it is funny to imagine him sitting guys down and saying “okay, so what’s the problem here?”
Don’t freak out – When the first kid came around, preparation was overkill. They’d pack a gigantic bag, make sure to have snacks, and first aid stuff, and drinks, and sanitizer, and whatever they could think of. That kid was the most important thing in the world, and everyone was going to know it. Then they had seven more kids. And while each of them are still the most important thing in the world, they learned kids are pretty dang resilient. So now if a pacifier gets dirty, well, it’s just dirt. Or if the kid falls and scrapes a knee, unless something’s broken, tears are just tears.
It’s not even a nature vs. nurture thing, it’s more a matter of not overreacting to every little thing. If they still did that with eight kids, they wouldn’t have any energy left.
“Now if we just have all eight when we get in the car we’re good,” Rivers says. “We’ll be all right.”