I like to follow the Olympics pretty closely, and this year will be no exception. The competition is exciting, and the TV networks know we’ll keep watching if we’re emotionally invested in the athletes as people, so they give us a good dose of personal profiles along the way. It’s all good.
There are always some great fathering stories that come out of the Olympics. With the opening ceremony only a week away, already several athletes have been highlighted because of their role as parents. They talk about the joys of having kids and how they manage training and parenting responsibilities.
For example, former gold medal-winning long jumper Dwight Phillips said: “Having children has changed me as an athlete on many levels, because now I’m not just responsible or accountable for myself.” (Unfortunately, we won’t get to see Dwight jump. He was recently injured and won’t be able to compete.)
And beach volleyball player Todd Rogers (pictured with his kids) talks about dialing back his competitive spirit when he’s coaching his son’s soccer team.
Watch the video here. You might benefit from hearing thoughts about parenting from some of these dads (and moms) that we’ll be watching and cheering for during the coming weeks. And here’s a link to one of the best father-child stories in Olympic history.
As many of you know, I had the privilege of serving as chaplain for the U.S.team in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. I remember talking with track star Carl Lewis and his sister Carol, the evening before her event. Their dad had died not long before, so they were working through that even while trying to perform their best on the world’s biggest stage. I tried to just be there and listen and support them. I also remember interacting with boxer Roy Jones, Jr., after his controversial gold-metal bout with a South Korean.
That video about parents on Team USA, along with my experiences from 1998, remind me more than anything that these great athletes are real people who deal with many of the same issues we face. They are sons and daughters. Some are parents, trying to find more time to spend with their children, maybe agonizing over challenges their children are facing, going through the ups and downs of teaching their children how to live with character and integrity.
So my “Action Points” this week come from the 6 qualities I often use to challenge young athletes when I speak to them. The acrostic I use spells out “Titans,” and you’ll see that these also apply to your fathering:
- Be Teachable. Through all the challenges of life, look for ways you can learn and grow as a dad.
- Have Integrity. Whether you’re at work, cheering on your child from the stands, or just going through the routine at home, remember that you’re a model of character. Do the right thing even when no one is watching.
- Expect to be Tested. In fathering (like in sports) temporary failures come with the territory, but those tests also prepare us to succeed. And we should surround ourselves with other committed dads who can support and encourage us.
- Have a positive Attitude. It can make a big difference! One optimistic person can be contagious and set the tone for the whole team—or family.
- Be Nice. In a world where there’s so much trash-talking, disrespect, and “what’s in it for me,” sometimes dads have to swim upstream by staying humble and serving our brides and our children.
- Special describes every person. We all have gifts, strengths and weaknesses, and especially as fathers, we all have an important and powerful role to play in the family. We fathers matter! Also, one of our main goals should be to make our children feel special every day.
How have you seen these qualities play out in your fathering? What other lessons and virtues form sports apply to your fathering? Please give me feedback below or at our Facebook page.
Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.