Our children do not participate in organized sports, and the boys and girls are not allowed to play physical games against each other. For example, the girls can play football if they want, with each other, but they are not allowed to play football with the boys. If the boys are playing a game where they are riding skateboards to see how far they can get on one push, the girls may do the same activity, but they are not allowed to compare their time, distance, or speed to that of the boys. Seems sexist I know, but in reality, when they compete with each other, it pits them against each other and tears down everything we are trying to build concerning relationships in the home.
Here is the list of Concerning Sportsmanship in Our Family...
25. We include everyone in our games no matter what level of proficiency.
26. We remember boys and girls are different and are treated differently when playing games.
27. We play games with the intent to WIN but are happy for others when they win.
28. We recognize younger children do not understand rules in games and we make choices to include them without fault finding.
29. We compete WITH our family members against people outside our family.
It is great to hear our oldest son include his younger brother in a game when he is playing with neighbor boys. He often says "Asher is on my team" when the group is dividing themselves. On some occasions, he has asked to play on a team that is opposite his brother. Usually, without just saying "no", I ask him a couple of questions and he re-thinks his decision of being on a different team than his brother. I could spend days on the ramifications of just this example, both positive and negative, but I will continue on to my earlier intent of this post.
What, you ask, is the point of all this deliberate decision making concerning sportsmanship? The point is simple. We want the children to love each other, prefer each other, and treat each other with respect and concern. In a nutshell, we want them to give each other VALUE. Their brothers and sisters will be their best friends. We want them to grow up valuing each other more than outside influences of friends.
This has never been clearer modeled than in our last three moves. We lived in Rowland Heights, CA for 5 years, then moved to Pasadena, CA for 2 years. Now we are in Winston-Salem, NC and plan to move this summer. So, you think, how do the children show you that siblings are valued over friends outside the family? Well, not a tear has been shed because the children are leaving their "friends". No drama about losing something. They are content to just write letters to their friends. No comments about how involved they have been and how difficult it will be to leave. Does that mean that they don't develop close relationships with others? Not at all. Quite the opposite happens. But, what it does mean is that they value their family relationships more.
I know of several families that I have talked to that say things like "we could never move because our children love their school", or make statement like "how could you uproot them and tear them away from their friends like that"?
Well, you see, we as the parents create the environment where value is placed. We decide what appetites are developed, and what appetites are starved. Reminds me of an old Cherokee story that goes like this:
A Grandfather from the Cherokee Nation was talking with his grandson.
"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves."
"One wolf is evil and ugly: He is anger, envy, war, greed, self-pity, sorrow, regret, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, selfishness and arrogance."
"The other wolf is beautiful and good: He is friendly, joyful, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, justice, fairness, empathy, generosity, true, compassion, gratitude, and deep VISION."
"This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other human as well."
The grandson paused in deep reflection because of what his grandfather had just said. Then he finally cried out; "Oyee! Grandfather, which wolf will win?"
The elder Cherokee replied, "The wolf that you feed."
The question we should all ask ourselves is "what kind of wolves are we feeding in our families"?