A visit to the doctor, orthodontist, school function — or anywhere, really — will alert you to the fact that people don’t know how to talk to your son if he doesn’t play sports.
Our society is programmed in a way that a boy who doesn’t play sports is an anomaly. What can we possibly have to say to a boy if we can’t ask him about football, basketball or soccer?
My son not only doesn’t play sports……he doesn’t watch them either. GASP!! I know, it’s a tragedy, right?
My son has a deep, abiding empathy for others.
My son is a critical thinker.
My son is constantly questioning the world.
My son is not a box checker.
My son has a thirst for knowledge about space that won’t quit.
But the world has no questions for him except for, “so….do you play basketball?”
REALLY? This 13-year-old boy who could change the world has to constantly answer why he isn’t interested in sports. Can’t we do better than that?
I watched my son pick grass on the baseball field until age 11. I watched him run halfheartedly down a basketball court and cheer for his teammates every single time they scored. Like good Americans, we tried every single sport there was, encouraging him to get involved, and choose from the buffet our country offers.
The looks I get from other mothers when I say that I gave him the choice at age 11 whether to play sports or not…..is one of reprehension.
How dare I guide and support instead of mold him in the image that is expected for our boys.
I get it, I really do…our boys are to follow a plan set out for success, right? We believe that you get them involved in sports, they play through high school, gaining popularity and acceptance along the way. This quells our fears. Society has instilled a fear in us that if our boy doesn’t play sports, than he is uninvolved. He is clearly sitting around doing nothing.
We ignore the statistics behind head trauma.
We ignore the statistics regarding how many of those boys actually play in college.
We ignore whether our children are enjoying themselves.
We ignore what their true passion might be.
We ignore that competitive sports keep them so busy, they have little time for much else.
I am not saying that sports don’t have absolute value. They do. Especially if your son or daughter loves the sport. They push themselves, they learn about themselves, they challenge themselves and meet those challenges. All really good things.
If your son or daughter doesn’t have passion for the sport — I mean real passion — then what are we doing?
Why not look deeper? Why not look beyond society’s expectations?
To what degree does your child’s involvement in sports have to do with YOU?
What if we got to know our child? What if we asked them if they wanted to play sports or get involved in robotics, student government, forensics, or the like?
What if we said, who are you and what do you like?
What if we said, it’s okay to not like sports?
What if we said, whoever you are is enough?
What if we put our desires aside and opened the door for more?
The self-worth gained from a parent who says “you are enough” is valuable beyond measure. That parent opens the door to more. That parent learns more about their child and more about themselves than ever before.
We owe our boys more than funneling them into a system they don’t fit into. If your boy isn’t an athlete … guess what. It’s okay. They are going to be okay.
You are enough, and so are they.
This post originally appeared at TODAY parenting.