In a day where there are so many things and people vying for the attention of our children, it has become vitally important to stay connected with them. If we as parents do not create an environment where our children know that they are valued and loved, they will certainly look outside of the home to find the acceptance they crave. If they sense that we as parents do not care about them and their interests, they will find someone else who does. If we show that we have little time to be involved in their world, there will be others who will make the time…and I don’t mean that in a positive way.
This season of raising our children is a short one. Before we know it they are toddlers, then pre-teens, then college bound, then off on their own. We’ll wonder where the time went. We’ll yearn for just a little more time.
Your children need you. Your children want you…really, they do. They want your love, attention, acceptance, and time. One of the best ways to show them all of these things is to simply be involved in what they are interested in. Nearly every child has something they gravitate to. Sports? Music? Art? The outdoors? Find out what it is and jump on board!
For all three of my boys, that interest is football.
I have to admit that, in the past, football had always perplexed me. Despite my husband’s best attempts to explain the game to me, I just couldn’t understand how it worked. Yards, downs, conversions? I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. My husband has never been a sports follower so I really had no need to explore football any further…and I didn’t.
Then it happened. I’m not sure how it happened or exactly when it happened, but my boys discovered football.
With each passing season the boys’ interest would grow. They would have “their team”, each one different from his brother. Talk at the dinner table would include highlights from Monday Night Football or talk of why so-and-so needed to be benched. They’d design plays to use when their buds got together. They, like so many other boys their age, had been bitten by the football bug!
I had to come to the point where I asked myself these questions: Is this football thing just an interest of my boys, for my boys? Or could this be more? Could it be a tool to connect with my boys on a different level? A catalyst for a myriad of important real life conversations? I soon realized that I had a choice: I could embrace this football thing and become an active participant, or I could be an outsider, a clueless observer.
The choice was easy. This mom would learn about football.
I first turned to my boys to explain the ins and outs of the game to me. And, they did. Why I had never understood the game is simply beyond me. (Four tries to go ten yards…repeat…not so difficult).
I began to watch games with the boys. I made sure that I knew what was going on in the world of football. I would chime in on football related discussions. I began to cheer for a team. I learned how to throw a football properly courtesy of my youngest son. I even went with the boys to our local team’s training camp. I got to know the players and teams. I shared in the excitement of a big win or the disappointment of a terrible loss. I even have given a hearty “Woo-Hoo” with hands raised at a great play.
The result? Lots of fun. Great memories. A tighter relationship with each of my boys. Totally worth it!
I do want to make it clear that football is not a god in our home. My husband and I have put parameters up. Football never takes priority over church, school, or people. It is not allowed to dominate our time, conversations, or interactions. Also, football is just one way that we choose to connect with our children; it’s just one way we choose to spend time with them; it’s just one way that we show them that their interests are important to us. Football is not the “end-all-be all”.
Football has also given my husband and I endless opportunities to talk about real life situations with our boys. I have to admit that there is a great deal of frustration over how some of these players live their lives. It’s seems like a never ending barrage of news reports about men behaving badly. Yet, instead of pretending that those reports don’t exist, we talk openly about them. We discuss how drugs and alcohol can ruin someone’s life. We talk about the proper way to treat women. We discuss poor sportsmanship. We talk about the emptiness of living a self absorbed life. Ultimately, it paints a picture of what life is like without a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
I also want to make it clear that we as parents need to use common sense. If our child’s interest is actually an obsession, we should not feed into that further. If their hobby is troublesome, we should work to steer them in a different direction.
Being a parent is a privilege! Take this season of your life and get more involved with your kids. You’ll never, ever regret it!
So, I’m not sure what you will be doing this Sunday evening, but I know where I’ll be. You guessed it! In my livingroom with my family, watching the big game. They’ll be good food, great fellowship, and likely opportunities for more heart-to-heart conversations.