Thursday, April 14, 2016

This Dad - Emmitt Smith - Gets It

Some people get it; some people don't.

I'm an Eagles fan and so Emmitt Smith was never my favorite player. I rooted against him and his team countless times.

But he gets it.

I'll bring up a sort of related point in a minute, but first: When asked if Smith would let his son play football - a big question that former players face these days - he said yes. Here is what he said:
Why would I steal his passion from him?” Smith said. “I never made him play football. He had many choices, options. I love watching him play basketball. Football, I get nervous just like any other parent. And I’m concerned for him just like any other parent. But his goals are his goals, and my job is to help him reach it and protect him when he needs protection. And so to take another kid’s passion from them is just not right. I don’t think it’s right. It’s like me taking your passion from you, telling you, ‘You cannot do this.’ When you want to do it. Especially if it’s right. It’s good for him.”

Yes. A parent's job is to help a kid reach their potential and goals, not to fulfill the parents' goals or life - an attitude I call "live like Daddy" syndrome. That means that if my daughter wants to ice skate, I find a way to get on skates, even though I've never been on them myself and am a confirmed catastrophe on roller skates. I know the situation is a little different here. A parent must also protect a child from overly dangerous situations. And yes, that sometimes that means saying no.

But it doesn't here, in this situation. Sure, at some point a kid might need to be pulled from the game or the team. If say, a kid gets a concussion, or maybe gets a second, you have to grapple with the question of "how much is too much."

But that moment is before the child has even started playing. Sure, you a parent needs to make themselves aware of the risks, and concussions are certainly a risk. But not every player gets a concussion. And not playing football doesn't ensure a child won't get a concussion. My sister has never played a down of football and has had at least two.

A parent's job is exactly as Smith describes it: it is to identify goals and passions and encouraging them.

About that little disclaimer above. The related point I wanted to make is this: we shouldn't let our kids do anything. That is the wrong question. Within reason - and that range only excludes truly hazardous things - we should be fostering interests. It isn't our job as parents to let our kids do things, only make sure they are safe when undertaken.

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