Thursday, July 18, 2013

Live Like Daddy Syndrome

I’ll tell you that my initial reaction to this Facebook post was anger, or sadness, at any rate.  The post starts with ignorance (feigned or real) about “ball sports,” and follows with an insinuation that the father wants his son to go over to the section of the store where the sports he “gets” (skateboards & bikes) are for sale.  But that just makes me sad.  I mean, if your kid wants to play football or soccer, or volleyball, what is the harm?

I feel like this type of attitude – what would you call it?  Live like Daddy? – limits children entirely too much.  The Dad in the picture says “I don’t like “ball sports” so we will just guide you over to stuff I like.”  But to what end?  So the Dad doesn’t like to do the things the kid in the picture is looking at.  Your child isn’t you, after all.  And maybe the kid wants that ball because he saw his best friend playing with one and wants to be able to play with his friend.  Or maybe he wants it because he likes it.  Maybe he will be really, really good at soccer and never know, because his Dad never allowed him to experience it. 

And then I stepped back and thought: it’s his kid, let him do what he wants.  Besides, what is the harm, really?

That, I think, is a legit point.  If you want to take to the comments and say I’m overreacting, well, I’m open to that possibility.

But then I also wonder, is it truly harmless?  Is what is happening in that picture any different than telling a boy he can’t play with a toy kitchen or doll; or telling a girl she can’t play with trucks or do math or science.  Would we be OK with the picture if it was instead a girl in front of computers or lab equipment and the Mom was saying “I don’t know what that is, lets go find the Barbies.”?  I’m thinking probably not.  And I doubt it would garner much praise in the comments section.  Might end up on Failblog, even.

The logic is the same as “I’m a lawyer, so my son will be lawyer.”  Which is just so, well, sad.  Because again, your child isn’t you.

In conclusion, I guess I’ll say this: I realize this isn’t the end of the world.  But I hope upon hopes that I’m not this Dad.  I try to be open to everything my kids might want to do and provide an environment that fosters it.  If you read this blog even somewhat regularly you know: I truly believe creating an open environment promoting experimentation, creativity and openness is the single best thing we can do for our kids.  Even if that something is something I might not have done or enjoyed myself. 

I’ll enjoy it because they enjoy it.


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