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Before we got married, my wife told me she wanted six kids. The goal was to try for an even roster: three boys and three girls. But we ended up going 4–0 with girls, ranging in age from six years old to 18 months. There are some days that I come home and find them all in the house wrestling one another—hair flying, little hands tugging and pulling, those high-pitched giggle-shrieks coming out of their mouths—and I’m faced with a choice: Do I step in or let them sort this out on their own?

It’s a choice I face more often than I thought I would as a father, which is a far different role from the role of player or coach. With me playing football for a living, valtrex hhv6 I’m constantly going from being all charged up with testosterone in an environment where you have a lot of aggression to having to flip that switch at home. I have to stop and assess: “Is anyone crying? Is anyone hurt?” If the answer is yes, I step in. If the answer is no, then I get the opportunity to watch something amazing take place: They sort it out on their own.

When we had our first two kids, it took some time for me to realize that I can’t be as hard on them as my coaches are on me. I can’t come at ’em like, This family has certain expectations of you or Do your job. I have to be able to walk them through the steps of why we don’t do this or that and encourage them to listen to Daddy. But more often they’d rather mess up as they’re figuring things out. For a professional perfectionist who plays a position where the slightest mistakes can mean a touchdown for the opponent—or, worse, getting cut—just letting my kids loose was tough to accept at first. But after a while, you learn to go with the flow. That’s girl-dad life.

This is especially true when it comes to being active. I’ll do my evening sessions with my trainer at our house, and my girls make the choice if they want to work out right beside me (doing footwork drills) or get their energy out another way (more wrestling, most likely)—I don’t choose for them.

I talk about this with some of the other guys on the team who are dads. (They think that because I have four kids, that somehow makes me more of an expert.) I try to give advice on how to manage their time and help their wives out during the season, because it can be stressful. Guys are always talking about their kids not letting ’em sleep at night. Mine are the same way sometimes—they can have a bad night, but then the next night my second-oldest will tell me, “Daddy, I had a great dream. I was riding on a unicorn,” and then who cares that your sleep schedule is screwed up, because there’s a big ol’ tear in your eye. —As told to Andrew Lawrence

This story appears in the June 2021 issue of Men’s Health with the title The #GirldDad Life is Chaos and Joy.

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