FAMILY/LIFESTYLE/SPORTS

REFLECTIONS OF A FATHER

Matthew 10:33: “Who ever deny me before men, I will also deny before my father who is in heaven.”

The day has finally arrived. My daughter left home for college.

This time of the year thousands of young people are going through this same experience, but what makes this case unique is that she’s moving to the campus where I work. Not only will she be a student, but she will also play basketball, the sport her dad coaches.

Can you see the interesting dynamics that we both try to avoid? I haven’t coached her since she was 9 years old, but here we are facing a dilemma that is sure to be a challenge for both of us. At various times, I’ve already noticed how quickly she (like her siblings) is trying to distance herself from the connection to her dad. This is a very common occurrence for my children, especially my sons. They want to prove that they got to where they are on their own merit and that I had nothing to do with it.

The love of a father is critical for the development of young people. I know my children love me, and I love them even if the words are seldom spoken. Growing up, the relationship between my father and I was vastly different than the ones I’ve developed with each of them. So, I try to understand their perspective. However, its perplexing at times to witness them make every effort to down play their association with their father.

My children have experienced some benefits as a direct result of being my child that others can only dream of. Tickets to sporting events complete with locker room access, entrance into social functions, travel, and the opportunity to attend one of the best private colleges in the country. My prayer is that one day they’ll learn to appreciate the sacrifices endured to pave the way for them and the respect I’ve earned in doing so. It took many years to achieve.

This recent experience of helping my daughter move into her dorm room caused me to stop and reflect on how many people are like my children. When they experience blessings in their lives, get that opportunity they desired, the promotion at work or financial increase, they try to distance themselves from the affiliation or connection to the “Heavenly Father.”

They place more emphasis on what others may think. They craft the perception of a self made person who made it by their own accord, through hard work, perseverance and talent with little or no assistance. I imagine at times God must feel like I do, proud to see his children mature, gain a sense of independence, enjoying the fruits of his labor and the burdens he bore only to have them do their best to keep their relationship with him private.

As a parent it is my responsibility to provide for my children and I take that commitment seriously. If some perks come along with that, so be it. Hopefully as they continue to grow and develop into productive citizens and one day start families of their own, they’ll fully comprehend what it means to have a good name and how important the right associations are in opening doors for the next generation.

Tony Price is a collegiate athletics administrator and head basketball coach with over 20 years experience as an athlete and instructor. His unique perspective on sports and society can also are also featured on his blog, “The Darker Shade of Sports,” www.sportsflow.blogspot.com.


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