Sports has been different this past year that’s for sure. But with the Dodgers and Lakers winning championships, Bill is happy (he hails from Los Angeles) and we each still follow what we can. As we have finished college football, engage with basketball in the college and NBA ranks, we think about the focus so many have placed on sports competition. One dad asked us, “My son has no interest in sports. Should I be worried?”
As fellow dads, we understand the concern because it is often viewed as “natural” somehow for guys to be attracted to the competitive, rough-and-tumble wide world of sports. Two questions come to mind: As dads, what might we be worried about? Secondly, what is meant by the word “natural”?
It’s a guy thing
Our guess is that dads don’t get too worked up if little Chelsea finds it more natural to climb a tree or put on a catcher’s mask than play with dolls. Why is that? We think it’s because if Chelsea exhibits interest in what is too often considered a more masculine activity, no worry … she’ll eventually grow out of it. Or who knows—she just may show up the boys! But if Devin isn’t interest in sports, it can be a reflection of dear old dad, and we can’t have that! Dads who love sports often hope their passion for touchdowns, fly balls and dunks will carry forth in their young sons. After all, males and sports are teammates, right?
The world is composed of exceptions, ironies and wonderful surprises. Tom’s uncle, who was not a sports enthusiast, was an accomplished organist. He also crocheted—not a typical activity for a man. He also worked in a funeral home preparing bodies for viewing and burial. He was a creative man of diverse interests. Were they masculine or feminine interests? Does it matter?
More than a baseball glove
If dad’s son doesn’t show any interest in sports right now, he may be a late bloomer. His interest in sports may emerge later. In the meantime, he may become enthralled with the flight of a hummingbird or the magnificent art of the spider’s web. That could indicate a passion for science or photography or nature. What are little boys made of … much more than a baseball glove.
Allow the natural to unfold
Dad, as much as you want your son to fit the mold, you can’t force him into your mold. As humans, we are allowed to cross boundaries and create new ones. We are free to be who we are. If you believe that your children can be anything they want to be … if you have encouraged them to follow their dreams—then you need to step back and allow the “natural” to unfold. It is not within your power to do otherwise.
• Realize that masculinity and sports are not necessarily synonymous.
• Introduce your kids to many pursuits, disregarding gender-specific tags.
• Instill values in your kids, and help them weigh their choices according to their passions and skills.
• Rather than force your son or daughter into stereotypical smaller boxes, encourage them to avoid boxes altogether.
• Allow your kids to grow at their own pace, along their own path—rather than be extensions of you. (It tweaks a nerve to say it, dad … but your kids are not you.)
• Be grateful that your youngster shows interest in positive pursuits, whether it involves a ball or not.