• 43°

Don’t miss out on their lives

By Nathan Rice

It was years ago, but I remember it clearly. The coach saw me sitting in the stands next to the Little League field where Jackson’s game was about to start, and he motioned for me to come to him.

The coach asked me, “Do you know if Jackson’s father is in his life? I never see him at any of his games.” Jackson lived with his father, but Jackson would only say, “He doesn’t like sports,” whenever I asked if his dad was coming to his game.

I shared the information with his coach, who seemed saddened by the news. “I’ll come to as many of Jackson’s games as I can,” I told the coach. We talked some more, assuring each other we would support Jackson as much as we could.

Last year, a young man told me how he spent much of his previous weekend fishing. When I asked if he or his dad had caught anything, he replied, “It’s just me. My dad doesn’t come with me often.” I sighed internally.

I share these two stories, but they are not the only examples I could provide of parents who miss many of the moments in their children’s lives.

I know there is no way parents can attend every Little League game, make it to every musical recital, or spend every weekend fishing. Life has a way of keeping us busy, and there are times important things, such as work and running a home, make it impossible to attend all of our children’s events.

However, there is a difference between missing some things and missing nearly all of our children’s events and activities.

Children are observant, and they will notice how you spend your time. They can understand when a work schedule gets in the way of spending a specific day with them or causes you to miss one of their games. But they will also notice if you appear not to have any interest in their lives.

Parents sometimes don’t understand that they do not have to have an interest in the activity in which their child is participating in order to support their child in that activity. A father doesn’t have to love baseball to watch his son play in Little League or love fishing to spend time with his son at a fishing hole.

Going to a child’s program doesn’t have much to do with the actual event. It has to do with being there for your child. It has to do with you showing that what is important to them is important to you. Your presence means more than you realize.

It is the same when it comes to activities with your child. It doesn’t matter if it’s fishing, playing catch in the backyard, or making a model airplane. The main thing is being together.

Children need to see their parents at their events, and they need times when you sit next to them with a fishing pole in the water. They are only young once. Don’t miss out on their lives.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.