Father’s Day can be a time to reflect on play and its role in bonding and building family. Signing a child up for organized sport is a gift. Getting out one night a week for men’s league lacrosse can be an energy giver. Nonetheless, neglecting playing together is a tremendous opportunity missed. Beyond the health benefits of exercise and the intrinsic fulfillment of shared time, children reap wonderful learnings when fathers, daughters, and sons share sports. Dr. David Elkind elucidates these benefits well in his book The Power of Play:
When we share or model our passions, we free our children to engage in activities they are not obliged to perform (play). In addition, sharing passions builds strong family bonds (love) and teaches socially valuable skills (work). Sharing our passions with our children is yet another way in which we can bring play, love, and work together in our parenting.
My daughter may not wind up a tennis player, but by taking to the court together she will see what a lifelong passion for play looks like. I can preach the values of sport all day, but when we live them together she will learn them. Registering children for sport classes may lead to a physically fit family, but parents and children engaging in sport and exercise together creates rich developmental experiences.
Dad’s, watch the US Open golf on Sunday… play golf with your kids soon. Happy Father’s Day.
Dr. Adam Naylor leads Telos Sport Psychology Consulting and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Boston University’s School of Education. He has a decade and a half of experiences working with professional through amateur athletes – of note: US Open competitors, NCAA champions, Olympians, Stanley Cup winners, and UFC martial artists. Beyond sports, over the past five years he has served as a corporate performance and wellness consultant. He has a forthcoming collection of writings titled The Sports Parent's Playbook that will soon be available at Telos Performance Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ahnaylor.