I write this blog with the intention to raise awareness and hope to reach young adults around my age (23-27 years-old). This was never a thought that crossed my mind nor something I sit up thinking about regularly. But, I will admit as a single 23-year-old male topics like this interest me greatly. There is no denying the fact that one day (hopefully) I will be a father and so will some of you reading this. Therefore I like to talk, think, learn, read, etc about this topic. It has been a little more apparent for me as I find myself thinking about "the importance of a father in a child's life" question/topic as I finished working a hockey camp in Minnesota consisting of 7-12 year-olds. Being around these kids for 8 hours a day for two weeks allowed me to reflect, look myself in the mirror and think about this topic a little more.
As I said, I write this blog to hopefully get the 23-27 year-old population to think a little bit more about this topic. After each day I worked I looked at these kids and wondered why they behave the way they do. Take feedback, or speak the way they did. Interact with other kids the way they did. I would look at these kids the moment they walked in after getting dropped off at camp and see some of their faces either down, shoulders slouched or excited to spend a day running around.
It was apparent the kids who had a secure, stable homes were the kids who were confident on the ice and off the ice, reacted to coaches feedback well, pushed themselves when they would mess up, keep trying after they failed, interact and make friends with the other campers very easily and conduct themselves in a different behavior.
For example, there was one camper let's call him Tom for now. Tom was around 10 years old one of the older but not oldest kids in the camp. He certainly was not the best skater on the ice either or most athletic kid out of them all. But Tom always listened to the coaches, smiled when he was on the ice, had a ton of fun on the ice and off the ice when we would play games. He got along so well with every kid and certainly was one of the more "favorites" among the campers. One of the last days, Tom showed up with new skates to camp and anytime you bring new skates that you are trying to break in it is never easy to skate! We broke into groups this day on the ice I took the mites and coach took the other group. Tom was in the other group due to his age, well when we broke into groups, Tom said to me can I join your group if I had said yes it would have been no challenge for Tom, he would glided right through the whole on ice session. I told Tom, no you have to go over there and he said "but I have new skates I won't be as good!" So I said to him new or old skates you are going to do just fine Tom, just have fun and be yourself. Don't worry about the skates if they bother you tell me and we will give you a second off your feet. Instead of throwing his arms in disgust or being pissed off. Tom smiled and said "ok!" Went off and tried his best!
Then there were a few certain kids who from the moment they walked into the camp and the parent dropped them off it was like there was a grey cloud over their head. They constantly had slouched shoulders, their behavior to other campers and especially younger ones was unacceptable. They never did well when a coach would try to correct them during a drill or off the ice, they took feedback as if they were being attacked. When a coach or myself even would talk to them and they were not being praised. They were almost unreceptive to what was being said. They would say "ok,ok,ok" or throw their hands in the air and get upset, throw their shoulders up and look confused or sit there with a look of confusion or upset as if their favorite toy got taken away when a coach was not praising them. This was not just one day or a bad day this was apparent in these certain kids. Something seemed to be different about them. They rarely listened to coaches or any rules for that matter. They thought that they had there own certain set of rules or did not need to follow them. And no I am not chalking this up to the kids being 11-12 years old and being thick headed. I watched things very closely it was apparent something was going on with the kids. Out of the 15 campers, five of them behaved like this and those five made it very uncomfortable and difficult for other campers to be there for the day. By day four I took notice to who dropped them off and out of all of those five kids four of them got dropped off by mothers and only one by a father. Typically though a lot of these campers got dropped off by their mothers so I was a little apprehensive about making that judgement right away.
Like I said these kids would act out and misbehave for 8 hours out of the day it was rare that the five kids actually behaved for 1-2 hours in the day. With that, as coaches you have to discipline them and find a way to control the kid so he does not lash out all day. And here was the trigger the suppressor for these five kids. When they would lash out all you had to say was "I'm going to call your Dad or parents" and they would immediately sit up and shut up. To me it seemed odd why do they get so stern and quiet when we say this. What could be going on at home? It was apparent that these kids have a little more difficult at home lives. I even noticed three out of these five campers cling to their mothers as their saving grace when they would be picked up and when we would say we are going to call your parents. They would go to their phones and text their mom about what happened and that if coach calls I did nothing wrong. I wondered why!
I am not making this judgement or assumption off this one camp. Although I am only 23-years-old I have worked with my fair share of kids. I worked a hockey goalie camp for six years, have three brothers, worked as a YMCA daycare worker for the before school program for ages K-6th grade, watched over two young kids my senior year of college, coached 12-14 year olds for 8 months, worked numerous clinics for 7-14 year olds for the last two years. As well as coaching now 14-18 year olds and training 9-11 year olds in the gym.
With all that said, this behavior I spoke about above. The misbehaving, irrational emotion, irrational reactions to things and consistent disobedience of the rules ,their language towards others was unacceptable, their situational behavior was unacceptable (when I say situational behavior I mean like when they are around 7 year olds and the 7 year old is changing they make fun of the kid for the under he wears of pick on every little thing he does as he gets dressed). All in all, I have a keen eye for this type of stuff and when I am around little kids I pay extra close attention to them and their behavior and always ask myself why they act like this, react like this, etc. Therefore I understand them a little better so I know how to communicate to them and act around them.
Which brings to my last point. It is apparent and some research does show it as well. That kids need two things to not be misbehaved, reckless, emotionless, disrespectful, cowardice, mischievous people their whole life. It is one thing to be misbehaved and disrespectful when you are 10-14 years old and it is another thing to be misbehaved and disrespectful when you are 20-27 years old and older even. In order for kids to grow up to provide for society, grow into strong confident people, have true values, character and be mentally and emotionally stable. (1) A father being apparent and present in their life is important, (2) a stable, safe and secure family home as well as a loving mother. It may seem like that is not asking a lot but in today's society it is.
Now before I go any further. I do want to say there are kids who are expectations to this. There are some kids who grow up with no father and are just fine or a kid who grows up with an unstable household and are fine or even kids who face both no father and a unstable household who are fine. But the percentage of kids who do not develop the same emotionally and mentally as the kids who have (a) father or (b) a stable household are apparent.
This post has gone on far longer than I expected. Therefore to keep this from going on any longer. Please do me a favor and check out these two links.
Importance of a Father's in a child's life
As I said earlier, the reason I posted this article. Was for two things, (1) raise awareness around this subject and (2) stir conversation among the 23 year-old to 27 year-old population to think a lot more about this topic.
Before you even think about starting a family, having a kid, etc. Personally, I have never looked at or taken fatherhood more seriously than now but working with children it opens my eyes more and more. Fatherhood is no joke, being a father is nothing to take lightly and raising a child is one of if not the most important duties you have as a father. Realize before you step into any relationship, think about marriage, think about a family. You ask yourself if you are ready. If you are ready to rise a child, put 110% effort into being the best father you can be, being there for their whole life and not just the easy parts of their life, if you are ready to raise a confident, mentally and emotionally stable child. If you are ready to be there for that kid, provide a good example of what being a good person is about, show the kid how to act, how to treat people, how to go after the things they love, how to deal with failure and success, etc. This is no joke and it truly breaks my heart to see kids grow up and live their adolescent and teenager years without a father present, without a father to be there to help answer their questions or comfort them when needed or just be there because all their other friends are walking around with their Dads. We are seeing this more and more common in society today, fathers abandoning their families, jumping ship because the boat got rocky. Or stepping out, taking a back seat in their kids life and drowning themselves in work, ignoring their kid, pushing the family off to the side because work is more important. There is nothing more important than making sure your kid is healthy and secure. Be present, be there and show up. That was the goal of this post and I hope it gets some young adults thinking a little.