Chapter 1: Coming up with a Name
The Browns were born in 1946, and named after their first coach, Paul Brown. Your kid was likely born later, but naming him or her after your favorite coach is still a great idea. Give a thought to Coach Ignatius “Rusty” Coleman, who made kindergarten fun (and whose seminal work in capture-the-flag analytics inspired a generation). Your hipster partner will pretend your boy is named after Iggy Pop, and will give him the appropriately obscure nickname Newell.
Takeaway: Name your kid after someone special.
Chapter 2: Dealing with Disappointment
Having a football team goes well right up until the time it doesn’t go well. The Cleveland Browns won championships in 1950, 1954, 1955, and 1964. They were like the kid who won the Kindergarten Fun Run, and also met his yearly reading goals in second grade. He might have even won a citizenship award in fifth grade.
Then, boom! Middle school happened. The Browns grew a unibrow, had really bad acne, and didn’t have parents who told them they needed to wear deodorant. They got stuffed in a locker, during a period of time when people thought bullying toughened kids up.
They turned into losers. Literally. Unfortunately, ‘80s armchair psychology has been debunked. Bullying did not toughen the Browns up.
That’s how parenting goes, too. Just when you think you know how to raise your kid, he turns two. Then, once you regroup and think you’re an awesome parent, your child hits adolescence. Your once adorable, sweet child becomes prone to angry outbursts and insists on wearing a weird orange helmet everywhere.
Takeaway: The Browns don’t have a solution for disappointment, and you probably don’t either. Just be prepared for it.
Chapter 3: Tough Love: The Case of Johnny Manziel
During 2014 and 2015, the Cleveland Browns tried to “re-parent” Johnny Manziel. After partying too hard, Manziel spent some time in rehab, and then came back to the Browns a changed man. Unfortunately for Manziel and the Browns, the average duration of the whole “changed man” thing is 2.56 days.
The Browns grounded Manziel, forbidding him from starting even though he was the most talented quarterback on his team. How serious were they? When the second-most talented guy fell to injury, they opted to let their third-string, I’m-not-great-at-football guy play, basically ensuring a loss. Manziel looked on, quietly accepting his punishment.
This strategy might be foreign to most parents in an age when kids are overindulged and everyone is a winner. Your kid will mess up. She might appear to have experienced some degree of self-awareness and reform. Either way, she will eventually backslide. The Browns way is not to bribe your kid, or pretend an infraction didn’t happen (those strategies will be explored in the sequel to this book, The Dallas Cowboys Guide to Parenting). If you make a threat, follow through with it.
Takeaway: Even though it is 2015, sensible consequences can still be an effective child-rearing strategy.
Chapter 4: The Browns Suck at Football, and Maybe You Suck at Parenting
Sometimes, even the best effort and the best intentions don’t help. No matter how many first-round picks the Browns have, no matter how much promising talent they bring to their team, they find a way to lose, and many of those talented players just don’t pan out.
The Browns suck at football, and it might just be that you suck at parenting. If Albert Einstein had been born into your family, he would have been a remedial student and dropout who ended up working in a junkyard. If Mark Zuckerberg had been under your parental watch, you would have grounded him and banned him from using electronics. He might have ended up working in a pencil factory.
Takeaway: Your kid could have unlimited potential, which you are stifling with your ineptitude.
Chapter 5: The Browns Had One Job and Failed
The Browns’ job is to field a football team. In that sense, they are doing their job. Beyond just existing as a team, however, the Browns need to find a quarterback. They have failed at that mission. Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, Thad Lewis, Seneca Wallace, Brady Quinn… that about sums it up.
Takeway: Don’t be like the Browns. Execute the basics. Remember to feed your children and make sure they have access to water.
Chapter 6: The Kick Six as a Metaphor for Life
In the final seconds of their Week 12 game against the Baltimore Ravens, it appeared the Browns had won. Alas, their would-be game-winning field goal was blocked, and Will Hill ran the ball back for a touchdown. Some Browns fans ripped their jerseys and shook their heads. Most, however, had come to expect failure.
Takeaway: You can’t count on anything, and just when you think you can let your guard down, a guy with terrible teeth comes in and ruins everything.
Dani Bostick is a writer and the proud owner of a pencil factory. You should follow her on Twitter.