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Encouragement Article

Bolster Your Children's Interests

It is important to find what interests you in this wide world. Find what makes you happy. Finding your passion, connecting to your interest tethers you with the world. It can help navigate you through many rough seas. It is vital for parents to gauge what our children take to. Then, it is important to walk with them on that path and give them every opportunity to succeed in it.

I had a waking dream at one point, maybe my child will grow up to be a 6’ 4”, 230 lb linebacker for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Man that would be swell, all my parent dreams would be set. I get to watch my son play for my favorite team.

Obviously I was being a little outlandish and selfish but the mindset was something I continued to think on.

When it comes to being parents it is hard not to influence our children with what we enjoy and what we participate in. Nurture in a pediatric psychological approach is so very important from a very young age. What our children hear us say, watch us do, and overall observation of our actions throughout life matter. It matters as we are many times their first and very sustained exposure to the world and how things operate in it. I attempt always, fail frequently to set a positive and integritous example in that form, but I digress.

My kids know I love Nebraska Cornhuskers football, San Francisco 49ers football with a passion. They know when the games on, many times in the replay because taking 4 hours out of a family Saturday is not how I want to spend family time, dad is a hooting tooting mess. They know I love football and wrestling, they know I was a Marine and grew up on a ranch.

Sometimes they would say, maybe I should play football, wrestle or join the Marines because of my known passion for these subjects.

I thought about these passing statements. I think he would be a very cool legacy for my kids to take certain paths in my life. To have my son or daughter play a sport I played, or join the Marines. It would be a great legacy experience. I could guide them with first hand experience and share with them the similar shared walk we would have.

My next thought was who do I want that situation more for? Myself, or my child?

I came to the conclusion, supported by my awesome spouse and confidant, I don’t want my kids to live my life. I want them to live their lives. I don’t want to be a dad that pushes them into things they don’t enjoy or have a passion for. I don’t want to be a parent that unceremoniously lives through their child because they didn’t make the cut in any portion of their lives.

I loved sports growing up. Intermittent to ranch living, I participated in about every sport I could. Athletics have their place in the world. In a more urban, less rural environment it is an avenue of teamwork, discipline, work ethic, humility and self improvement. It can help kids focus and keeps them from wavering into the negative boundaries of life.

We have challenged our kids with karate, soccer, dance, summer clubs, and swimming to initiate that mindset. We ask our children to never be afraid of an experience. Challenge yourself and face your fears in portions of life to make yourself better. But I feel it is wrong to pigeonhole my children into only the sports or events that I like.

In their younger years, my wife and I have prioritized time together versus sport participation. There is a short time in children’s lives where they want to spend time with their parents. My wife and I are making the best we can of this timeframe.

Learning as I have, I recognized it is not just sport/athletics that support growth for a young individual. My oldest son really does not have an interest in sports. He loves to watch football with me depending on if the Niners are winning or not. But when asked he does not have interest in following my footsteps.

He does have interest in the outdoors, hunting, fishing, ranching, science, experiments and animals. Each of my children as they have grown continuously show me their personalities in their own unique catalog. My middle son loves rock and roll, wrassling, rock throwing, stick smacking, avengers super heroes, and bashing guys (action figures). My daughter is the proverbial young lady, intense crafting, barbies, American girl doll accessorizing, lots of book reading, and imagination games with depth and detail.

With these interests coming into view I make note of them but I also want to expand their collective experience. To allow them access to stimuli of the world around us. We try to do this as a family to not only try new things, but to have that time together. I want to show them as much exposure to the world to engage their minds and personalities. I feel more worldly exposure allows them to be more neurological and personally developed.

Not only does it improve their development, it also enhances their worldly perspective, our family’s shared experience. Somewhere on the path it may light a spark to lead them to their passion.

I am a firm believer that if they find their passions in life it will strengthen their self worth. If they have self worth, an identity, they are less apt to be drug down or negatively altered by the world and its trials.

When they spark on something that we run into, it is up to me as a father to support their interests. I will take my son to science camp or ski school. I will take my son to wrestling practice or guitar lessons. I will take my daughter to dance class or a crafting club. My interests are mine. It is our job as dads to support theirs.

Bolster their dreams any way you can. There is no better legacy than watching your child succeed in doing something they love. I’ll take that any day over a 6’4” college football player.

Life is a garden gents, keep diggin! “Joe Dirt”

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