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Sons. Sports. Songs.

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by Rod Wilson

I like computers, movies and books. My son is eight and loves sports and extreme everything. Sooner or later he will figure out I don’t know what I am doing or talking about in those areas. Should I keep trying to stumble through or just let him go with friends’ dads?

You are off to a good start with this question. Do not underestimate the importance of being able to identify what you like and what your son likes. There are many dads who have no clue what appeals to their children and little appreciation for their interests.

These days there is a lot of pressure on parents to be expert on every subject. We believe we need to understand and be conversant in every area that appeals to our children. But that is almost impossible. Why not turn it around and see your son as the teacher? Have him bring you to games, watch sports on TV with him and ask lots of questions. You might even want to bring him to some games with another dad and his son. This strategy will not only help you become more competent in this area, it will also give your son the message that what interests him, interests you.

While it is not as easy to reverse the process and expect your eight-year-old to show interest in computers, movies and books, you could be on the lookout for ways to connect your passions with his. What about sports movies? Or books on sports? What about computer games that have a sports emphasis?

Finally, we need to recognize the developmental stages children go through. While your son is eight and into sports and extreme everything now, by 18 his passions may change. At that point you may be submitting a very different kind of question and pining for the day when sports was a “problem!”

My wife tells me I spend too much time on sports. I still play hockey and baseball with buddies in local leagues and I love watching anything on TV. How can I make her see that playing sports is a good thing? It keeps me in shape and I don’t complain about her hobbies.

Those of us who have been married for any length of time know that “making our spouse see” anything is usually filled with danger. Most of us are quite resistant when someone else is trying to convince us that we are wrong.

Why is your wife telling you that you are spending too much time on sports? Often comments about how we are spending our time are really focused on what we are not spending our time on—like our spouse. Is it possible your wife is missing you? Might she be expressing a desire to be with you rather than making a comment on sports?

A hobby, by definition, is something we do in our spare time. Usually this means that the rest of our time is committed to work, family and other relationships. When those around us observe that our hobbies have become an obsession, they are telling us that we are using all of our spare time in one area and neglecting other aspects of life. Is sports really a hobby for you or is it an obsession? The former is acceptable; the latter is a problem.

Most couples who struggle in these areas need to respect each other’s hobbies and spare time activities and negotiate how much time is going to be spent in these areas, while agreeing there are things they will do together. Simultaneously we need to remember that being married is no guarantee our own passions will be fully understood by our spouse.

I like the people at church, but it is usually really boring and I am not that excited about singing. Some of the songs seem like mushy love songs, and who can sing that high? Do I just grin and bear it or try to change things?

Your experience in church is not unusual, especially for men. A lot of us battle boredom and the singing part is a real problem. I suppose you could “grin and bear it,” but it does not sound like you do a lot of grinning in the church.

Lots of people in church would like to “change things” but the reality is that often we need to change ourselves. We have lived our lives with such a commitment to novelty and innovation that we are incapable of entering into anything, like church, where some things are the same every week.

We come to church with expectations so centered around our needs and preferences that we spend our time ignoring God or the common good and get totally preoccupied with ourselves. We are not coming to church to worship but to critique.

On the other hand, churches that are static and immoveable create an environment where God’s people are bored for good reason. Churches that sing music that is not rooted in theology and Scripture with God at the centre move toward an excessive emphasis on emotion and feeling so at times it does feel mushy. Worship leaders that do “7-11 music” (7 lines sung 11 times) blur their personal devotion with genuine leadership and tend to alienate men. When the body of Christ comes together and genuine excitement is missing it is a slap in the face to the God who made us.

You are right when you say change is needed. We need to pray for the ability to see whether the change needs to come from our attitudes and actions or from the leadership of our churches. My hunch is that it is a combination of the two.


The article above was featured in the September 2009 issue of SEVEN magazine.