Awarded for Participation….huh?


My hope is this blog entry doesn’t come across as too polarizing. Often through the course of treatment I’m forced to confront a parents need to blame or find fault, either in themselves or a child’s other parent. Blame and fault finding have no place in therapy, none.

To begin a blog post with a preface or disclaimer seems in order. Awarded for participating is mothering quality.

James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steeler’s linebacker, recently went to Twitter to express his feelings surrounding his 2 boys receiving trophies for participating in little league football. Mr. Harrison mentioned several words that stand out for me: raising boys to become men, participation, entitled, and values.

Despite where you land on this subject I applaud Mr. Harrison for being actively involved in the raising of his sons. He used social media to announce his point of view as it relates to his sons growing from boys to one day becoming men. James Harrison is not special in this regard there are countless men actively engaged in the fathering of their children. Yes, fathering used as a verb or adverb to denote action, a doing, or an occurrence.

Fathering is at the root of children growing from a sense of security and safety. Secure children risk failure to possibly achieve greatness. Children reared in a sense of security innately understand the driving motivation necessary to achievement and success. As parents, guardians, and professionals engaged in some capacity of child development need to always remember it isn’t the result of a doing that fosters growth; it’s always the experience along the way pushing us to greater heights. James Harrison has set a precedent in the development of his children that showing up will never be celebrated. Participating is never trophy worthy and the only thing his children are entitled to is the opportunity to compete. This perspective screams of everything making this country great and much that appears missing in the development of at least the past two generations: simply the opportunity to compete. That’s what the Civil Rights Movement was all about. Somewhere we as a culture, our westernized grandiosity, has lost that edge of understanding. Competing can never be noteworthy and deserving of awards.

I don’t know James Harrison’s background. I’m not even interested in looking it up, sometimes the internet affords us too much useless data. What has occurred to me is James Harrison has to be particularly concerned with his children being reared in his accomplishment. Mr. Harrison is a millionaire many times over, something I surely can’t relate to, and his primary interest appears appropriate in raising boys to become men. Maybe his sons won’t be celebrated footballers but you get a sense this father is standing hard on the principle of working hard. This standard will have wide sweeping effects in the lives of his sons. Something tells me neither of his boys will receive Porsche’s or BMW’s for their 16th birthday.

This is fathering. Im not sure how I feel about posting #harrisonfamilyvalues all over the internet, but I’m also glad he did. It makes us all take a hard look at the values we are instilling in our children. Im sure in my day I will ask more than once “what are you teaching your children about themselves, the world, and the blessing for the journey in life?

This is active fathering. This is what separates fathers from mothers especially as it relates to rearing men, although girls and women benefit greatly from fathering as well. Fathering begins with establishing what Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs terms in his 2nd tier of developmental needs for Safety and Security before growing on to the 3rd tier of developmental needs: Love/Belonging.

No, this isn’t about trophies or celebration from participating. And surely not about James Harrison and his family values. This is about child development. This is about putting an end to bullying. This is about positively effecting the horrendous statistics of suicide. This is about addressing the ground swell of people entrenched in depression and subsequently living daily with doses of medications. This is about learning young the reward of hard work. This is even more about the equality of the opportunity to compete with little regard for winning. This is about embracing the ideal that losing often positions us with the perspective of greater learning, more so than winning.

Mr. Harrison’s boys have already won. No trophies required. These boys have an actively engaged father who is already considering what his sons need to succeed.

This is about FATHERING, the verb. What values are you instilling in your children? My hope is you’re not looking for a trophy too.

This may be of interest also: Boys to Men



Categories: absent fathers, boys, father, Parenting, spirituality, Uncategorized

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