The kids are in bed, sound asleep and dreaming of unicorns and dinosaurs respectively. And I sit here sipping an ice cold beer, enjoying the boxing on a near perfect Saturday evening. The age my children are at allows me to do this. Indulge in my own pleasures without fear of interruption or consideration for its appropriateness. But it does bring to mind a dilemma I have around parenting of my children and my own personal appreciation of sports that are physical and aggressive in their nature.
Generally I will not watch the boxing with the children around. Whilst their youth gives them the benefit of innocence it equally makes them impressionable. But sometimes I do have the rugby on in their presence, something which can be equally as physical. And one Saturday evening a few months ago my son (3) had a fright at about 9pm and we brought him downstairs to calm him down. I happened to be watching the boxing and this brought about the dilemma.
As he sat there on his mothers lap, he was asking about the boxing and beginning to enjoy it. Making punching gestures with his hands and encouraging the fighters.
I can’t deny that a huge part of my loved it. That he was enjoying the contest, the masculinity, the physicality. But at the same time it felt wrong. At 3 years old I don’t want him thinking that fighting is acceptable behaviour or a game.
I have the same feeling when I think about the potential for him playing rugby when he gets older, something I did for many years. Ive seen, and suffered, injuries I never want him to endure. But there is a primitive side to me that wants him to thrive in a competitive environment, in a physical environment, I can’t help that.
Of course the good parent in me will just leave it to his choice. If he wants to watch, or participate in physical sports then I will support him. If he doesn’t, that is his choice too. But for now I face a personal battle between encouraging and promoting these things, and making sure he isn’t exposed to it too young.