As a father to a 10-month-old boy, often tradition and expectations say I’m supposed to be excited about my son going into sports. Maybe even push or slightly nudge him into playing one of my favorites – relive Dad’s glory days from high school. Hoping one day he’ll become a superstar athlete and make millions of dollars.
The thought flooded my mind during our walk today, as we stopped to watch a soccer camp at the local elementary school.
Before I had a child, I was guilty of believing that.
“Oh, he’s gonna play football,” I’d say. Never really thinking it through.
Now that he’s here, I’ve found that former statement of mine to be utterly ridiculous.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
As a dad, I believe it is my job is to encourage my children to approach activities with a sense of wonderment and excitement, no matter what it is. Ballet, cooking, writing, being an artist, a musician, or sports…yes, even football. Whether they choose to pursue the activity, is up to them.
Kids have no idea what they like until they try it. We as parents encourage or discourage them from doing something based on our perceptions. Our baggage from life can shield us from finding their potential passion. Giving them the opportunity to find out whether they may excel or have a passion for something, I feel is one of my most important roles as a dad.
It’s easy to say no to ballet or dance, gymnastics, baking, or any number of other non-traditional boy activities. In fact, society almost does it for us. That, however, is where my short experience in becoming a dad has taught me to say, “I just don’t care.”
For me, seeing my son performing in a ballet or playing in the philharmonic will be as exciting as being the star quarterback on the football team. Seeing his name on a byline for a research project will be as exciting for me as watching him score a goal in the World Cup.
That’s the thing — this is an opportunity for me too. I’ve learned as a dad, I have a chance to teach myself that fatherhood isn’t about what I know. It’s about letting my son (and any future children) find out what he wants to know and follow and encourage him with unbridled passion.