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Dads and Sports

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Dad giving a pep talk to his upset teen athlete
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Sports have so much to teach us about what it means to live well. Yes, good character can be taught in Sunday school, but it is "practiced" on the court, diamond, gridiron and track. Virtues such as tenacity, perseverance, fairness, integrity and responsibility can be developed and strengthened as surely as the muscles and skills needed for competition.

“It’s just a game.”

How many times have I heard that phrase used to dismiss an athletic competition? How many times have I said that myself?

So, once and for all, let’s set the record straight: A ball game is more than a “game.”

Sports have so much to teach us about what it means to live well. Yes, good character can be taught in Sunday school, but it is “practiced” on the court, diamond, gridiron and track. Virtues such as tenacity, perseverance, fairness, integrity and responsibility can be developed and strengthened as surely as the muscles and skills needed for competition.

More than 30 million children in the United States participate in organized sports. The rising popularity of youth athletics is good news for dads. It presents a matchless opportunity to connect with their children and teach valuable life skills.

For some dads, sports can make parenting seem easier, more natural. As a father tosses a baseball with his son in the backyard or plays tennis with his daughter in the park, the gap between them closes. Few words are needed; the activity itself draws them close.

“I have great memories of being with my dad, having him teach me how to throw a ball, how to catch, how to do athletic things,” says former NFL coach Tony Dungy. “It was a great time for us.”

Unfortunately, the pursuit of athletics isn’t without its pitfalls. In his desire to see his kids excel, the overzealous sports dad can push too hard and drive a wedge between him and his children. And when a father fails to curb his competitiveness, kids can learn the wrong lessons: Winning is everything; don’t let other players hog the glory; the referee doesn’t deserve my respect.

“We put unrealistic expectations on our kids many times, and we don’t allow them just to have fun and enjoy it,” Dungy says. “We’ve got to be careful and make [sports] positive and make it something that the young person enjoys.”

In the other articles in the “Dads and Sports” series, you’ll learn how to get the most mileage out of your kids’ sports involvement. Whether they’re in peewee soccer or high-school football, you’ll discover practical strategies for helping them learn all that athletics can teach them. Suggestions from fathering experts will also guide you around the common dangers and show you how to keep the action on the field both fun and positive.

You are the most important coach your kids will ever have. Use your influence to help them achieve their full potential — in sports as well as in life.

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Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

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