THE BLOG

Using Your Head

04/13/2015 09:22 am ET | Updated Jun 12, 2015

Letting your child play football has become as frowned upon as feeding your baby formula from a bottle.

I get it. Parents are scared their child will suffer a concussion if they allow them to throw on the pads and helmet. Yes, it is a high contact sport. Yes there is the chance your child will get hurt.

But other sports also provide the opportunity for athletes to fall prey to a head injury.
In a 2011 report put out by the America Journal of Sports Medicine, they looked at the concussion rates per 1,000 high school athletic exposures; one athlete participating in one practice or game.

Not surprisingly football was at the head of the pack, with 60-76.8 athletes. What did surprise me was that right behind football, girls soccer is listed as the second leading sport for reported concussions. According to the document, 33-35 female athletes experienced a concussion playing soccer.

Having played soccer from the ages of 6 to 22, I had my bell rung more than once. From heading the ball, cracking my skull into another player's head or having a ball rocketed at my dome on an attempted slide tackle, I am confident I would have sat the bench if diagnosed properly. But 20 years ago you went back into the game even if you were seeing stars.

That's not the case today. Supports are continually being put into place to protect young athletes from permanent brain damage. There is more information out there than ever before. More and more programs and precautions are being implemented for all athletic programs.

Weighing the pros and cons to play football is no different than determining what diet your family will eat, what car seat to purchase, or what pediatrician to use. Seeking out information to make the best decisions for your family is a personal one, not to be judged.

This past spring I covered a Moms Safety Football Clinic hosted by the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass. I spoke with Bianca Wilfork, wife of New England Patriot defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and asked her why she lets her son, D'Aundre, 16, play football.

"Everything we do in life, there is a risk. If you don't take a risk, you'll miss out. As long as you are educated and things are being done the proper way, I support my son," Wilfork said. "The more knowledgeable you are as a parent, the more secure and comfortable you are making those decisions."

D'Aundre will tell you his mother is strict, that not much gets past her.

Despite having a husband playing in the NFL, seeking permission to play football from mom, it wasn't necessarily easy, D'Aundre said.

"My mom is tough, so I can't convince her of anything," he said. "But once I started playing football she made sure I was safe and doing things the right way."

So if a parent does their job, looks up the pros and cons, does the research and still decides to sign their child up for football? Guess what? It's their right. It's not your child. It's not your family. Therefore it's none of your business.

I listen to mothers, especially, bash each other for not living up to some unwritten standard. It doesn't stop at football. If you don't breastfeed, your child will turn out to be weak, stupid and deformed. If you do breastfeed, please don't expose your breast in public.

If your child plays football, you are a horrible parent, putting your child at risk for long-term mental problems. Allowing your child to sleep in your bed is weird, or letting them cry it out in their own bed unattended is cruel.

For crying out loud, can we stop forcing our individual ideals and opinions onto others!

Letting a child play football does not equate to putting them in front of a firing range. Formula feeding does not mean a baby is being poisoned.

Everyone is trying to do the best they can. The majority of parents don't want to hurt their offspring, rather they encourage them to thrive and look to provide as many opportunities to do so.

In finding those opportunities, parents have done the research, read the materials and sought out the advice. After gathering all of the information, most parents then choose to do what is best for their family, not yours. THEIRS.

Each household offers its own unique environment. Families have different rules, different values and different approaches to life.

Just because you are against something, doesn't mean it's wrong.

Focus on what is best for your own family and stop trying to re-write others' stories. Work instead on creating your own script.