As a kid growing up in a small town, I loved to play sports. I began playing baseball at a young age, then football, basketball, bowling and track. I not only enjoyed playing, but watching sports on TV or in person, as well. I knew when I had kids of my own, I would steer them in the direction of athletics as soon as possible.
When I married my wife, I became a stepfather, of Leah, age 7, and Alex, age 5. They had not yet been introduced to sports, but I quickly signed them up for different things. I instantly knew Leah had some athletic ability. She did well in everything she tried. Alex, on the other hand, not so much. When it came to baseball, he preferred to build dirt castles on the field so he could kick them down. When he wasn’t doing that, he was chasing butterflies and grasshoppers. He had no interest in the baseball aspect, which was fine, but every year, when I’d ask if he wanted to play, he always said yes.
We tried Mighty Mites football when he was old enough, and again, he was the kid dancing during the game and stacking cones on the sidelines. He had no interest in the sport at all. I signed him up for soccer, which I knew nothing about because it not offered to me as a kid. Though I did not know anything about the game, I did know running in circles and trying to play tag with your teammates during the game, was not part of the competition.
I thought maybe bowling would be more his jam. Sadly, he would walk up, chuck the ball down the lane, and instantly turn around, with zero care as to where the ball would end up.
Alex continued to play sports through grade school, mostly because he knew he would get a medal at the end of the season and snacks after games.
Once he hit junior high, Alex began to get into things like horticulture and wanted to join band. These are two things I never did, but I was happy to invest my time and money if he enjoyed these activities. He did not try out for a single sport in junior high until 8th grade when he found out he couldn’t be cut from the track team. About two weeks into practice, he had a little mishap, and broke his elbow. His junior high athletic career was over!
The summer break between 8th grade and high school, Alex played a lot of backyard football with friends. He fell in love with it and told me he was ready to try out for the football team. As happy as I was to hear it, I also knew he would be so far behind all the other kids who had been playing for years. I warned him of the uphill battle he was about to enter. He went ahead and tried out and made the team, though he only played a few minutes in one game. He still loved it and wants to play again next season.
He joined Jr. ROTC and stuck with band his freshman year. I had no idea how much time and money goes into high school band. There are band camps during the summer, practicing before and after school, and out of town band competitions every weekend. I tried to be there to support him while also getting my other two children to their sporting events and practices.
Although I would prefer to be watching him hit a baseball or drain a three pointer, I will continue to support him in whatever it is that makes him happy as he makes his way through high school and beyond. I've learned we can try to raise our children to share our interests, but it is also very important to support them in their choices, and I can credit Alex with helping me learn this. Here are three quick tips to get started:
From there, you're armed with a better understanding of what interests your child, and you can learn more about it and find ways to talk to them about it. Or if it's an activity you can even make plans to join them in doing it sometime. The important thing is that they'll know you're paying attention to them and that they have your support, and that's invaluable in creating a bond that will last a lifetime.
Herb Cody is a husband and father of three. He is a part time Uber driver and full time caregiver of his spouse, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after an auto accident November, 2015. Herb loves football and is a St Louis Cardinals fanatic. He and his family live in Nixa MO.
I have three adult sons. Each is a quitter. Being a quitter is not always a bad thing.
Since my children were young they had the opportunity to try new things from playing soccer to playing in the band. They also had the opportunity to decide when enough was enough.
Don’t get me wrong. Watching T.V. and playing video games all the time was not an option, and there were areas of life my boys were not going to quit no matter how much they kicked and screamed. My boys were not going to quit school. They were going to do their homework, like it or not. They were going to be polite and respectful to teachers and people in authority. And they were going to live by the rules of the house so long as they lived in our home.
But there were plenty of areas of life where my boys had choices to make. They could try new things. They could join this and that. And they could quit when enough was enough. No guilt. No shame. No burden or pressure. Of course, they would be respectful. They would communicate clearly. But they could quit if they wanted.
My boys were brilliant soccer players. I don’t mean good. I mean brilliant. They were each drafted on all-star teams. But one by one each of them quit playing soccer for the sake of new interests. Oh, I grieved. But it was their choice to make. They quit.
One of my sons wanted to quit the band. He played the saxophone. He was very good. But one day he said, I want to quit. I took him out for dinner. We talked for two hours. I encouraged him to try a new instrument. In the end he said, “I want to quit the band.” It was his choice to make. He quit.
Two of my boys were drafted to play on a travel hockey team out of Arkansas. After traveling to Dallas, Texas and back, and staying in a hotel, my boys had had enough. They quit.
One of my boys joined a fraternity – and then decided it was not for him. He quit.
Of course it would not be healthy to quit everything. Neither is it healthy to be stretched to the limits. Good Dads will listen to their children and help them make good, positive and healthy choices. Together, you and your children will learn that quitting is not always a bad thing. My boys know that if they have difficult decisions to make they usually get a steak dinner out of the deal!
I am proud of my boys. They are adventuress, able, and independent. This year my oldest went on a ski vacation to South America. My middle son went to the Dominican Republic with friends. And my youngest went to Denmark and Sweden – and was certified in Scuba Diving!
My boys have quit their way to a balanced, healthy life.
Jeff Sippy, a Dad-In-Training, is the father of three young men and the husband of Cindy. He enjoys sailing every chance that he gets. He is the senior pastor at Redeemer Lutheran in Springfield, MO and can be reached for question or comment at firstname.lastname@example.org