Andrew Reynolds is one of the most respected skateboarders of all time. His frontside flips are the stuff of legend—known far and wide as the best in the game—and his ability to huck himself down seemingly unhuckable sets of stairs and rails is well documented. But perhaps his greatest trick is being a fantastic dad.
It wasn't too long ago that dads in professional skateboarding were almost unheard of. Most of the industry was young and responsibility-free, but today, the guys who came up in the 90s and aughts are settling down and having kids, and Reynolds, a.k.a. the "Boss," is no exception. In the spirit of helping other current-and-future pops out there, we asked him to give us some fatherly tips he's picked up while parenting the real Reynolds family boss: his 11-year-old daughter, Stella.
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Reynolds in "4-Wheel Drive" (1996)
I guess no one teaches you how to do this, you know what I mean? When they're little, no one tells you when to say, "Hold your own spoon and put the food in your mouth," or, "I'm not going to carry you everywhere." You get stuck in those habits because they're easy, but that's not going to be the thing that teaches [a kid] how to go out in the world and manage a life.
Most kids I've seen, if there's more structure, they like it. Like, make the plan—you know what I mean? It's typical stuff. You go on trips with certain people, grownups even, and you can see the ones who got everything they wanted. And you can see the ones who had more rules in their household—they act better as people. It's like I learned pretty early on: "More structure, but still have fun."
Life's easy and fun, all the love and everything, but structure is good, too.
What I've realized is that if you're doing right, you see a direct result in the way your kid acts.
If you're in a bad mood, you might point out, "Oh, this parking lot's packed. Why is that always like that?" You want to point out the bad. But if I'm feeling healthier, in a better place, and I'm always looking for the good in everything, then I see my kid start to do the same thing.
You can say things all day long, but if you're actually being polite, and doing just good in the world, I feel like that's the best way of teaching.
If I bring up something like, "Yeah, we need to give this stuff to one of our neighbors who can bring it to their church." She has no idea what I'm talking about. She's like, "What? No, I want that." And you realize that you've got to put that stuff out in the open. We have to go into her room and say, "Let's grab some stuff you don't wear anymore and take it to Goodwill." Because if she never sees it, she'll never know.
Respect, Honesty, and Disciplinary Actions
When you meet someone, look them in their eye, shake their hand. Please, thank you… like old-school type of things. If an older person is walking up in the restaurant or the coffee shop, you wait your turn and let them go ahead. You open the door for them; you respect your elders. No one ever told me that. This is all new stuff to me, too.
But she's good at school. She doesn't lie. She sees that honesty is very important to me and respecting people is really important to me, so she kind of just does that. I guess there's another world coming up with the teenage years, so I'm just going to enjoy this part while it lasts.
If stuff comes up in the future… what always worked for me was if I got bad grades, then I got my skateboard taken away. I think that's OK. It just shows her, "Listen, I'm not upset, but there are consequences for your actions."
It's funny. After the fact, it works. They realize they messed up and change their behavior. Plus, it doesn't hurt that she happens to be a really good kid already.
Reynolds in "The End" (1998)
Parent vs. Friend
I've had to say these exact words before: "I'm not here to be your friend. My job is to teach you the stuff that's going to get you ready for the real world. Of course we do fun things together, and I love you, but I'm not here to be your best friend. Even if you don't like it, I'll try to teach you what's right and wrong."
That's pretty clear in the household here, but of course she's my kid. She is my friend. But I think it's good to let her know that you can't just go around doing whatever you want.
With any relationship—a friend, your girlfriend, wife, or your kid—there are times when it's a lot of work. There are times when you feel like there's a little disconnection, and I think that's normal. They're naturally going to want to go off or kind of be on their own. The older she gets, the more I learn that it's OK to have my own separate life and do stuff that's going to make me happy, too. It's not that big of a deal. In life, you just learn more and more lessons, if you want to take them.
I do try to teach her proper skateboarding because, to me, there's an art form to it that needs to be somewhat preserved. But it's hard. Sometimes I actually know what the problem is—either with life or with a rock 'n' roll—and she just won't hear it. But a big part of teaching is letting go and not putting your own personal agenda into it. The funny thing is, some stuff really set in for Stella when she started watching Jeff Grosso's Love Letters to Skateboarding.
She watched it and that changed her skating. She was doing little early-grab frontside airs between the legs, because it was probably easier to get down to the board. But after Grosso went on some rant about that, she never did it again. She stopped completely. She tucked her knee from that point on.
A lot of kids, they just don't know, so I think it's cool to tell them that etiquette stuff, too. Don't snake people, don't go up and just do somebody's trick right in front of them, that's not cool, either, and Tony Alva aired like this, so we air like this, you know what I mean?
I'm on my phone all the time. And Stella's on the phone a lot, too. I let her have Instagram, but I just set up some boundaries, talked to a couple of her friends at school who already had Instagram, and here are my rules for it: It needs to be a private Instagram, for one. I have all the passwords and stuff in case I want to look and see what's happening on there. But the big rule is, if somebody wants to follow her or she's following somebody, she has to know this person in person.
In her mind she's like, I'm going to be a pro skater. I'm going to be like you. This is what I'm doing. So I say, "When you get older, if you don't want to have it private, you don't have to." Because she sees someone like Brighton Zeuner's Instagram, and people are saying lame stuff in the comments. I tell her that it's real life, but it's all about how you deal with it. There are 100 people telling you that you're awesome, that was sick, blah-blah-blah, but one person says you got a funny style, and you forget about all the good stuff and just look at the one negative thing. It's so weird. I do it.
I told her, "Those people… they just don't feel good about themselves, really, so you kind of gotta feel bad for them."
Reynolds in "Baker 3" (2005)
Drugs and Alcohol
OK, there's some stuff here I don't know how to deal with or what to do about. I've been sober for 15 years, and I'm in a program that helps me stay sober.
Both her parents have had struggles with drugs and alcohol, and I'm very open and honest with her about that. I basically told her, certain people can drink alcohol and enjoy it with their friends. It's completely OK, that's normal. And there are also people who cannot, like myself, and her mom. For us it doesn't work like that. It becomes a problem. I need to be part of a group that helps, where you can help some other people, too, and can kind of get out of yourself. It's not all about me; it's more about how can I help somebody else now that I have gotten better myself?
But at the skatepark, there's weed everywhere. I have to let that go. My main thing is that I let her know it can be dangerous. If we see people on the street whose lives have obviously gone to shit because of drugs and alcohol, I will point out that most likely they're struggling with drugs. That's what got them there. Just so she knows, "Wow, this is pretty serious." I think knowing that I've been through some stuff, and her mom's been through some stuff, it's like, "Yeah, I'll probably not drink." That's what she says. I'm like, "Yeah, well, you know, you'll figure it out."
Stella paints every single day and she's good. She has sketchpads full of paintings. It's amazing. I really like to draw, too, but I can see she's way more into it than I am. I think she's really inspired by Spanky, for one, and Neckface and Nora do really cool art and they skate.
Seeing people take it so lightly… like Neck draws monsters and stuff, and he gets paid for his paintings. He draws people's heads blowing up and stuff, and that's my friend. Spanky just draws crazy… whatever. There are no rules and I think she's really attracted to that, like, "Oh, you could just do anything." Yes, it's art: just do whatever. There's no good or bad, you know?
I think both skating and art—she doesn't know this now—are the quietness you need in your life. You're not thinking and you're there exactly in the moment. That's what everybody should be striving for, not like, "Oh no, what's going to happen tomorrow?" Or, "Oh, why did I do that last week?" When it's already gone and it's past.
When she's sitting there painting, that's it. She's right there. It's the only thing that's happening at that exact moment, and it's a dream come true that she has that. Skateboarding too… any skateboarder knows mid-frontside grind everything's gone.
Just the fact that she has two things where she can get that from, that's a gift. I'm really happy for her.