A new football season is upon us. Conditioning camp finished up this past week. The new twist: my six year old joined the fray. Alden Justice, my dimple cheeked “baby”, joined the mass of grunting, huffing, sweating and yelling boys and coaches. In fact, he jumped right in by volunteering to lead his miniature cohorts in a series of something resembling calisthenics. His jumping jacks look a lot like someone bumping into an electric fence. But he led with gusto. Funny guy.
I have to tell you, I’m really excited…and a little afraid. Three boys = Three teams =Three practice nights per week = Three games on Saturday. Not to mention, as the Broncos like to remind us, we’re a volunteer organization, so we’ll have numerous “opportunities” to paint fields, work concession stands or monitor plays. The next few months will prove to be the most hectic of the calendar year. However the next few months will also be chocked full of experiences. And that means memories. Memories are the intangible evidence of an active life.
I didn’t say busy life. Busyness is a drain. A weight on the shoulders while spinning on life’s hamster wheel. Busyness creates monotony. Monotony is dreadful. But an active life, now that’s different. Some call it proactive, and that makes sense. Choosing the activities in which you engage your family is by far the most important factor in family unity, home stability, and long term preparation for your child’s future. For us, we’ve selected football with a purpose.
It’s not simply a game for them to play and earn a little participation medal. Life lessons await, and I want them to be students. I want them to learn the discipline of physical conditioning, the emotions of controlled aggression. and the heightened senses of field awareness. I want them to understand their personal role on a large team, and how to thrive under high pressure coaching. I want them to get up when they get knocked down. I want their engagement in this sport to be a place to learn in a controlled environment, an incubator of sorts.
My challenge for you – Consider those things to which your family is exposed. In other words, it’s easy to adopt the habit of reacting and rolling with the tide. That’s the path of least resistance. Our calling as parents is to resist this by making decisive choices. Decisiveness results from purpose. Understanding purpose requires thought. Thought requires effort.
Ask yourself, as a parent, why you are doing what you’re doing in any given situation. Why do I want my kid doing _____________ ? What do they gain? What do they miss? What are the rewards? What are the risks? How does this prepare them spiritually and physically? Am I keeping them busy, or am I building a foundation? Is this building a memory or is this creating drudgery? Is this building character or is this building a resume? Are you reliving your childhood dreams? Are you developing their strengths? And I’m not just talking about sports. There’s music, scouts, dance, service clubs, art, camps, youth groups, school trips, etc. Our first world exposure to opportunity is as limitless as keystrokes on the interweb. Your decisions for your children are investments in their lives and they simply must be founded in a purpose.
Strong parental leadership embraces choice, wisdom, vision casting and paradigms. While most of us don’t sit in the CEO’s seat at work, as parents we have a team to lead and build up. As someone has said, “The future is now.” Today is yesterday’s future. Yours. Your child’s. Each step we take today, each decision, teaching moment, correction, encouragement, or activity molds your child and shapes their future. We become who we are through daily choices. My responsibility to my children is, therefore, to help them make beneficial choices and literally build their future. The opposite is to let life deal them cards and hope they bluff their way out.
Added benefit, you may get to see your six year old run down the field with a football while intentionally flitting his long hair in the wind like a scene from Baywatch. True story.
Simple, but not easy.
What steps do you take to ensure your children’s activities are memory building life lessons? I’d love to hear from you.