Consider this a disclaimer: Nick and Danielle Sorensen do not claim to have a perfect family or flawless parenting skills. They would never say they know what is best or right when it comes to keeping a family balanced, happy and healthy, or claim (for even for a second) that trying to do so is easy.
What they do say is they seem to have found something that works for them—and that’s for everyone in the family to have a healthy amount of grit.
“Valuing hard work, determination and grit is very important to us,” Danielle says.
“That sense of work and grit, that’s what we want our kids to have,” Nick says of their two boys, Stone, 3, and Nash, 2. “We want them to be good people, have a good work ethic, and have that grit to be able to overcome things.”
The couple says people are often quick to assume that this outlook was born solely from Nick’s career in the NFL. Currently, he is a special teams assistant coach for the Seattle Seahawks and joined the staff in 2013. Prior to that he was a player for the St. Louis Rams, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Cleveland Browns.
But, that’s only one thread in the fabric that makes up their unique philosophy. Danielle says she developed her sense of grit through academics, which led her to a career in health care. “I was never the smartest kid in class,” she says. “But I worked as hard as possible to get the results I was looking for.” And also through the art of ballet. “I didn't have the best feet, and I didn't have the best turnout. But if the doors to the studio were unlocked, I was there.”
“Yeah, we both have that mentality of, ‘You’re not going to outwork me,’ ” Nick says.
Danielle and Nick agree physical activity and athletics are naturally a great setting to start instilling these values in the boys, while keeping them healthy at the same time. So they expose them to many different activities, including soccer, swimming, T-ball and more, many of which they do at the Club.
But ultimately, they know that what the boys learn from swinging a bat or shooting a basketball will carry into anything they do. “I would be just as happy to see Stone finish a piano recital; it’s all about the hard work,” Nick says. “Being a football guy, I always said I wouldn’t push that on them. They may be good at karate; they may be good at piano. You never know. We’re going to let them see everything, and let them figure it out.”
However, as hard as the couple works to make sure their boys develop a healthy sense that “things aren’t always going to come easy,” they work equally as hard to hold themselves up to the same standards.
“The overlying idea for us is that the harder choice is usually the right choice; finding a way to spend more time with the kids isn’t always easy. Danielle researches food, does the shopping and cooking, and that’s harder,” Nick says. “There’s not one trick; just do what’s harder; try to be more selfless and take that tougher, sacrificial route.”
For Danielle, this translates into spending a lot of her extra time and energy researching and preparing clean, healthy food for the whole family (“Our kids are gluten-free, dairy-free, no reduced corn syrup and no genetically modified foods,” she says.) as well as juggling everyone’s jam-packed activity schedules.
“Parenting isn’t easy and you’re not always going to be their favorite person, especially with the eating,” Danielle says. “But it’s just about knowing in your heart you’re doing what’s best for you and your kid.”
Leading by example also means, among other things, they both maintain their own fitness regimes, vow to get outside with the boys on a daily basis, and do just about anything else it takes to keep their kids gritty.
“Step outside your comfort zone, for yourself and your kids,” Danielle says. “Because you just don’t know; you never know what you or your kids might like?”