Sunday, December 07, 2014

Who's Coaching Your Child?

I just dont think he wanted to coach. In fact I am certain he was fulfilling some sort of community service requirement. Whatever the reason he was not interested in teaching an awkward twelve year old with no experience playing organized baseball. Between humiliating me as I struck out in the batting cage to assigning my permanent spot on the bench, my coach took all of the fun out of playing Little League. It was an experience which I hope to help my children avoid as they venture into the world of youth sports.

Fortunately my children have had a number of good coaches, men who have shown an understanding of the age range they were dealing with as well as knowledge of their sports. But there have been the occasional bad apple like the coach who did not understand the mechanics of throwing a baseball. One of the team moms (a former college softball player) gave him a tutorial in baseball 101, a somewhat awkward situation for us all. A group of dads wound up coaching the team for the rest of that season. While I enjoyed working with the children, I could not help but think there must be a way to find out about a coach before paying my childrens registration fees.

If you have children who enjoy playing youth sports take time to research area programs. You likely will not be able to pick a coach but you can tell a lot about the people involved by looking at the attitudes of the organization as a whole. As parents we have a responsibility to learn as much as we can about the men and women standing on the sidelines with our children. Get involved. Research the programs available. Do what you can to keep your child from missing out because of a bad coach.

What experiences have you had with youth programs in your area?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

About Me:

{I am making some changes in my life and on my blog. With those changes comes a new about me section.}

First and foremost I am a child of the living God, having been given the right to become part of His family (John 1:12). As such I am in a better place than I once was but I have not yet arrived. I am starting a new chapter in my journey, where finding truth outweighs fitting in with organized religion. With each step I find new reasons to be excited about the opportunity I have to get to know the Lord.

I am a husband, enjoying my twenty-third year of marriage to a terrific follower of Christ. Neither of us is the same as when we first met but that's okay. Who we are now makes us each a better companion for the journey ahead as well as for the task of preparing our children for the future.

I am the father of two boys, a responsibility I treasure more each day. There are the usual ups and downs that come with being a part of a family but in the end even the bumpiest of roads can get you to where you want to be.

A graduate of Temple University, my day job is with a company focused on research on the senses of taste and smell. There I serve dual roles as space coordinator and human test participant coordinator. Unofficially I wear many other hats, relied upon to be available for whatever need arises.

Writing is a hobby for which I have a renewed passion, making steps towards turning pro. (For the record I do have one article in print: a short piece on the history of flashlights published in History Magazine.) My other hobbies are traveling, hiking, reading; activities to which I do not devote enough time. I am in the process of getting my motorcycle license. I prefer charcoal over gas. In the future I hope to add kayaking to my list of hobbies.

Where Am I Headed?

The Christian answer is Heaven. I have assurance from the ultimate in reliable sources that I will arrive eventually. What will I encounter along the way? I do not know. I invite you along on my journey as I find out.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Repost: Would You Let Them Play?

(My oldest son recently decided not to play football after playing for the last seven seasons. This, along with the fact that my younger son has no desire to play relieves me of having to deal with the decision of letting my sons play. But I am still curious to find out where other parents stand. So I would like to share what I posted in 2012 and reposted in 2013 asking: Do you or will you let your son play football?)

How the death of Junior Seau weighs on the mind of a football dad.

I love football but must admit the relationship has become a bit strained lately. Over the last couple of years the news out of the NFL is causing me to rethink my support of the sport, especially with what we have heard the last couple of weeks. Word of bounties and the recent apparent suicide by a high profile former player have me questioning my interest. No, I am not too soft to watch an inherently brutal sport. I have become hesitant when it comes to football because of my oldest son’s dream.

My son dreams of playing in the NFL. As a kindergartener he could not wait to put on a helmet and make his first tackle. After a handful of years in youth football he still has his dream, staying with it though he knows the odds are against him. Each year he looks forward to playing on the next level, moving from one weight class to the next even thinking about what colleges he might want to play for. So it was a difficult decision whether or not to talk with him about the recent death of Junior Seau.

Junior Seau was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. We do not know, and most likely will never know, why he killed himself. Yet his death echoes that of former Bears player Dave Duerson, who also shot himself in the chest about fourteen months ago. Their deaths add fuel to the discussion over repetitive head trauma and its effects on players in the NFL. And while most NFL players live after their carriers without showing any signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a good number do show other signs of the beatings that are an unavoidable part of football. Knowing this I can’t help but wonder if my son’s dream will leave him with a broken body or even a broken mind.
The news of Seau’s death opened the door for a conversation with my son about the health issues being faced by a number of former NFL players. I did not want to crush his dream but I believe he is now at an age where he can handle this discussion. The odds are against him ever making it to the NFL but if the opportunity does arise I want him to make an informed decision, being aware of the issues surrounding the industry. However for some parents being informed is not good enough.

I have heard fathers say they will not let their sons play football. They have seen enough evidence of the game’s physical toll to warrant their pointing their sons in other directions. On the other end of the spectrum are the parents who push their children into the sport without any concern beyond raising the next pro-bowler. For now I have left the decision in my son’s hands, keeping him informed of what goes on beyond the game. How about you? In light of what we know about repetitive head trauma are you/would you allow your children to play football?

Update: As I mentioned my son is no longer interested in playing football. Instead he is chasing another of his dreams in a different sport.

While I no longer have reason to watch youth football, I do still watch both the college and the pro game. Over the last year I have seen changes in the game. During last week’s game between the Steelers and Ravens there were two penalties on plays which in the past would have made the highlight reels. Instead both were called personal fouls. Even with the recent rule changes I am relieved that my son no longer plays. Are the changes enough for you to let your son play?

I expect more rule changes with the goal of making the game safer. Where is the line between making the game safe and changing the nature of football?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

What Kind of Parent Are You? The Answer Could Keep Your Children Off Drugs

By Hilda Fearon (1878-1917) (Bonhams) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I admit, I started to panic when I read the headline of the June 12th 2014 article by Melissa Hellmann. Having been called “over protective” by my son’s friends I figure I might qualify as a strict parent. And so it tripped me up a bit when I read the title, “If You’re a Strict Parent, Your Kid Is More Likely to Smoke Pot.” Is it time for me to change my parenting style?

In her post Ms. Hellmann describes a study conducted in Europe. The study team looked at over 7,000 teens, asking about their relationships with their parents. Indeed they found that authoritarian (strict) parenting is not the most effective way of steering children away from the use of drugs. The team also found being neglectful was not the way to go. So if laying down the law parenting is no better than “I do not care” parenting, what type of parenting styles show success when it comes to keeping kids away from pot?

In an article posted at covering the same study (referenced by Ms. Hellmann), the study team found that indulgent but very emotional parents were effective in keeping kids off pot. So were the parents who gave “…clear rules…” as long as those parents showed their children love and were not rigid. It turns out that the best parents are the ones who show affection for their children, parents who build strong family relationships. So for those of you, who like me believe in setting boundaries, there is no need for change. Just make sure you let your children know you love them.

What type of parent are you?

The study team identified four parenting styles:
Authoritative - Parents “give clear rules and affectionately and flexibly reason with the children when asking for their compliance.”
Authoritarian – Same as authoritative but with less affection.
Neglectful – Low level of control with little affection shown.
Indulgent – Low level of control but “very emotional.”

I believe my parenting style is closets to Authoritative. How about you?

Referenced in this post:

FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. "Having authoritarian parents increases risk of drug use in adolescents,European study finds." ScienceDaily.
  (accessed June 25, 2014).

Thursday, June 19, 2014

God’s Mercy

By Bureau of Land Management [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

{Based on a post I originally wrote before restarting the blog.}

Genesis 4:13-15

After Cain killed Abel, he found himself with a bit of a dilemma. Thinking he could hide his crime, he had not counted on facing judgment by an all knowing God. God’s verdict meant Cain would have to leave his home becoming a nomad of sorts. But Cain knew the dangers of wandering about on his own. Without God’s protection, Cain would certainly fall victim to someone or something that would help him join his brother.

God would have been justified had he said, "Too bad" in response to Cain’s complaint. After all Cain brought the punishment on himself, having been warned of how sin was knocking at his door. Given the opportunity to turn back to God, Cain chose to yield to temptation. But instead of condemning Cain, God was merciful putting a mark on him in order to keep others from killing him.

Like Cain we are warned by God of our need to repent of our sins. God tells us that all have sinned, earning a spiritual death sentence. Fortunately God is merciful offering in Jesus an opportunity for each of us to take on the mark of adoption. We deserve death but instead believers are given life, becoming members of God’s family.

Are you living life as one who is marked for protection from God or are you taking your chances wandering alone in the wilderness?