How My Kids Made Me a Better Physical Therapist

Jul4th 2017

A Custom Approach to Parenting and Physical Therapy.

I have four boys. I know, that seems like a lot. The jokes I’ve heard about our full house never cease to make me laugh. From the outside looking in, that many boys in motion can look like one big cloud of dust with arms and legs sticking out. But to be the kind of parent I want to be, I’ve had to make sure I take the time to really get to know each of my sons for the individual they are. As they’ve grown, I’ve done my best to understand what makes them tick, so I can help them as much as possible.

Austin, our oldest, is our expat. Last year he went on a 30-day hike through South America with two of his buddies. They flew to Paraguay in June, and over the course of the next month, they trekked up the coast of Chile and even made a quick detour to Easter Island! In May, he went on a mission trip to China where he stood on the Great Wall. After everyone had gone home, he stayed an extra month to hike up to Base Camp at Mount Everest. Between all his adventures, he managed to finish up his freshman year at Ouachita Baptist University, where he attends on a full scholarship as an Arkansas Governor’s Distinguished Scholar!

Our second-oldest, Stuart, is 17 and about to go into his senior year of high school. He’s such an extrovert. Wherever he is, that’s where the party’s at. He’s the life of any room and quite the musician. He’s played piano since hewas 9, and he recently turned it into a business. He started a class to introduce small children to music — helping them experience it, enjoy it, and make it. He teaches it to the little ones who aren’t quite ready to sit down at a piano, but who are ready and capable of experiencing the joy music can bring to a person’s life.

Next is Nicholas; he’s 15 now, and he marches to the beat of his own drum (literally). He loves airsoft guns and enjoys coordinating epic airsoft battles with his friends (many of which he dominates ;). In addition, he is active in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), which is a volunteer force that supports the U.S. Air Force and helps assist with natural disasters and other domestic service. In April, he was awarded cadet of the year for his squadron. Being so dedicated to such a physically and mentally demanding organization at a young age takes a lot of discipline, and we couldn’t be more proud of his accomplishments and commitment.

Last, but so very not least, is Brady. He’ll be 11 in September, but he’s got an old soul. He’s a little quieter — a little tougher to get to know. He makes you earn your way into his inner circle, but once you get to know him, he’s as rambunctious and lively as can be. He’s the athlete of the family. We refused to let any of the boys play tackle football — the rest of the boys are big golfers — but Brady drove a hard bargain, and eventually we gave in. This was his first year, and man are we glad he talked us into it. He loves the sport and is a hard-hitting linebacker.

Since Becky, my wife, homeschools the boys, we’ve had a lot of opportunities to really get to know them, and we’ve had to adapt to each of their learning styles, attitudes, preferences, and strengths. You can’t just take a one-size-fits-all approach to raising kids if you want them to really shine. You have to find the approach to life and parenting that best reaches them. They each need something a little different from you. And it pushes Becky and me to grow in ways we couldn’t imagine. For me, it’s been such a blessing to have my adaptability tested by the boys. It allows me to approach my practice like I approach parenting — with the view that each injury is unique and needs a little something different. It’s also taught me that each and every person needs to be noticed for their strengths, weaknesses, and styles in order to find the treatment plan that’s right for them. People are always telling me that our physical therapy clinic feels like a family — and now you know why. It’s because I treat every person who walks through the door with the same unique and individualized approach that my wife and I use to help our children thrive. I want you to thrive, too.

– Lee Sowerbutts, PT