Checking in with 'The Texas Zoo Crew'
In a world of self-help, advice and do-this-for-success books, 1992 Huron High School graduate Dr. Chad Peters is quick to point out that his recently released book, “Parenting from Out of Bounds” is exactly what the subtitle says it is - ‘a guide to keeping your sanity while raising an active family.’
“I don’t offer advice and this is not an advice book,” he said. “I don’t mind ideas - I like them. But telling someone how they should do something just doesn’t make sense to me.”
The book is available in either paperback or Kindle editions on Amazon.com
Peters, who owns Armadillo Sports Chiropractic in Corpus Christi with his spouse, Dr. Nikki Viersen, draws on his competitive athletic background, life lessons from his parents and the madness of sharing a home with a wife, four kids (participating in about a dozen different activities) and 28 pets.
Really? Twenty-eight pets?
“It’s true,” Peters laughed earlier this week from his home on Padre Island, Texas. “I’m not sure, maybe my wife’s parents told her ‘no’ a lot, but our oldest child had a Jeff Corwin fixation when he was younger. So he got a bearded dragon and you can always get an iguana or the like. So we just kept going.”
So much so that a friend began refer to the Peters household as ‘The Texas Zoo Crew.’
“We are all busy all the time,” Peters noted. “Life is chaotic for us, and it is for many families. That is where this idea for the book started. I was on the phone to my dad and I was just stressed at how things were.”
Chad is the older son of former Huron High School teachers Steve and Diane Peters. Both Chad and his younger brother Shane, as well as Steve, are members of the Huron High School Sports Hall of Fame, which will induct a new class tonight at Huron Arena.
“Astonishingly, my dad pointed out that every parent in history has gone through nearly the same thing,” Peters said. “He told me to be willing to adapt and change and it had an immediate impact. I realized that I needed to become flexible and be willing to change things and situations. I was either going to be a jackass dad or I would fix things. So I relaxed and adapted.”
Peters is also quick to add that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” way to parent, even within a single family.
“What works for one child may not work for another,” he said. “Make a choice, run with it and find something that works. If it doesn’t work, try something else, but stay connected. Be willing to look at different ways to connect with your kids.”
The overriding message of “Parenting from Out of Bounds,” is one of trying, trying and trying some more.
Peters acknowledges the parallel to the athletic backgrounds that he shares with his wife.
“There is an absolute connection,” he said. “You learn in competition that everything will go awry at some point and you gotta be able to roll with it and change course. You do that in athletics and in parenting. Multiply that by the fact that we both coach our kids (Chad coaches soccer; Nikki coaches basketball) so we see it from both angles.”
Another parallel to Peters’ guidebook is the book “The Martian” by Andy Weir, and his approach to problem solving.
“I actually visited with Andy when I was looking at different publishers and he told me that “The Martian” started off as a blog. He created a problem for his character and then had the character solve the problem.”
The equation is re-iterated throughout the book and the subsequent motion picture starring Matt Damon.
Recognize the problem, solve the problem and move on to the next one.
Their life on Padre Island is likely not what was on Peters’ radar 20 years ago.
“I was the stereotypical jock in school,” he said. “Football, wrestling, track and baseball in the summer. I played them all. My parents were supportive of everything I wanted to do, regardless.”
That rang true in middle school, when Chad told his father - the high school wrestling coach at the time - that he thought he would like to play basketball instead of wrestling. “Dad was ‘Okay, if you want to do that it’s fine with me.’ It turned out that I was a much better wrestler and I ended up back on the mats.”
After graduation, Peters played linebacker for South Dakota State University, while getting his undergraduate degree in Kinesiology. “At that time, the emphasis was toward sports performance or personal training,” Peters said. “I chose to get my chiropractic doctorate at Northwestern in Minneapolis. I was still unsure of my path, but some others in the field advised me that chiropractic medicine was changing from a medical discipline to more sports performance.”
While there, he met Nikki and after graduation, they interned in south Florida, for a firm that served the Miami Dolphins football team and the Florida Marlins baseball club.
“While we were there, we grew to love the warm weather,” Peters said. “Here was this South Dakota guy and a girl from Alaska and we are enjoying the sunshine and saying, ‘Why again is it that we want to go back where it is cold?’”
They were looking for someplace warm and came across the south Texas coast 21 years ago. “This was always going to be a one-year stop for us,” he said. “We weren’t thinking kids, we were thinking international travel and exploration. Four kids in four years changes your perspective.”
Adapt and change.
Now deeply ensconced in the community and involved in a myriad of work and kid’s activities (sons of 15 and 11 years of age, along with 13-year old twin daughters), Peters is overjoyed at the niche they have in life. “We are, right now, in the midst of 100 degree heat with high humidity,” he said. “It can be really hard if you aren’t used to it. But I tell my friends that I absolutely will not complain until I am forced to shovel the heat off my driveway!”
Peters credits his parents for providing him a very good matrix upon which to build. “My life at home was wonderful and they gave me support and guidance I needed. I am trying to do the same for our kids.”