Please welcome fellow blogger Doyin from Daddy Doin' Work, one of my favorite blogs to read (and one of my favorite "daddy blogs" - a very special distinction). As we were talking on the blog's Facebook community about kids and sports and activities, he's written about his experiences and his daughter. I really appreciated his contribution and I hope you enjoy reading this. If you do, you should check out his blog and Facebook community.
Hi All! I’m honored that Liz asked me to guest post on her blog. To provide a little background, I’m the author of the daddy blog Daddy Doin’ Work and I’m the proud papa to a beautiful 18-month old baby girl. She’s a little young to give me any clues as to what activities she’ll be interested in as she grows older, but I already know how I plan to manage those interests once the time comes.
First, let me share a quick story. When I was growing up, there was an older kid (let's call him "Mike") who was good at baseball - really good. The only thing in question was how he became so good (no, I’m not implying that he used steroids). Every day after school, his dad would make him practice hitting, fielding, throwing, etc. until the kid damn near passed out. Sure, Mike was the star of his baseball teams as he grew up - but once he made it to High School, he lost all of his passion for the game and he quit on the spot. By his dad immersing his son in baseball 24/7, Mike's grades suffered, he lacked balance, and he became extremely bitter and angry. I’m not sure what he’s up to today, but I’ve heard that he and his father have not spoken in years.
All due to respect to Nike, but I don't want my kid to "be like Mike." Don't get me wrong here, this cautionary tale isn't something that happens often - it's just something that I'll do everything in my power to prevent against. As the days progress, I think about what activities my baby girl will be interested in and the guidelines that I’ll follow to ensure she does so happily. Here's my short list.
Never Push, Only Guide: Selfishly speaking, I want my daughter to play sports because I personally don't think there's anything out there that better teaches children how to work together to achieve a common goal, deal with adversity, and win graciously than athletics. However, I'm not going to be that dad who makes his kid sleep with a basketball every night in hopes that she'll compete in the 2032 Olympics. My goal is to simply present her with the available options and let her choose accordingly. If my daughter chooses to go to Math Camp instead of Soccer Camp, that's totally cool with me too - as long as she's happy. Additionally, it's important that she makes these choices at her own pace. If I push her to do something too quickly, she could very easily burn out and become resentful like Mike did.
Don't Quit: When my parents signed me up for something that I wanted to try (swimming lessons, piano lessons, basketball, baseball, etc.), they did so on one condition: I could not quit. Don't get me wrong, if the activity compromised my health and/or welfare - they would pull me out of it in a heartbeat. What they wouldn't tolerate is if I wanted to quit due to not liking my teacher, coach, or teammates. They knew that in life, I would have bosses and co-workers that I couldn't stand - and I'd have to "man up" and deal with them. No matter what activities my daughter chooses to participate in, the "Don't Quit" rule will be in full effect.
Add Value: Raising a knucklehead who sits on the street corner after school will absolutely not happen on my watch. The main thing I want for my daughter is to add value to her friends, family, and community with her activities. If she excels academically, I would love to see her tutor other children. If she’s active in the community, I'd love to see her clean up area beaches on a weekend. If she's a leader, I’d love to see her run for student council. Quite frankly, this world needs more people in it who choose to add value, and I hope that she figures this out on her own.
I know that my daughter is only 18-months old and she's not showing any signs of doing anything other than saying, "No!" to everything. However, her health and happiness are by far the most important things to me and I’ll do whatever it takes to get her there at her own pace.
But first, I’m going to teach her how to hit a curve ball (literally and figuratively).