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Baseball Therapy: From a Father’s Perspective

on July 8 | in Editor's Picks, Issue 8, Relationships & Dating | by | with No Comments

When I think of the month of July, there is nothing more invigorating and relaxing than baseball and therapy. In my adult years, it has taken me a long time to realize how messed up as a kid I was due to my parents’ divorce. Today as I am writing this article, my son Connor is playing baseball for the first time and I wish I had his ability to shake life off in the moments of “striking out.”

I was the kid who just couldn’t handle striking out or making errors in baseball. I was that kid who cried and used a lot of that negative self-talk—which would even carry into my adult life. I love to play baseball, but in all of the years I played in the leagues I can honestly say I never got a hit because I was to scared to even take a swing at the ball.

Early on I knew I needed to erase all the negativity I was dragging with me—this was not going to be instilled into our kids’ lives.

That self-defeating attitude went with me even into high school, where I wanted to try out for the baseball team but did not. Sports for me was an escape, but even when I was playing the game my mindset was that I didn’t deserve to play because I wasn’t very good.

As a parent (as well as a bonus dad), early on I knew I needed to erase all the negativity I was dragging with me—this was not going to be instilled into our kids’ lives.

We have three athletes in our house. All three kids are involved in something any day of the week. Especially as a man and father figure, I know it’s vital to support the kids the best way I can. As parents, even if we cannot make it to the event, we need to ask them about it (or if your partner recorded it, watch it back with them).

I want to not just encourage my son but show my support to the girls as well. Becca is 12 and a competitive gymnast. Betsy is our actor in the family; she has had both big and little parts in school plays. My mom came to some of my high school soccer games, but there’s nothing like having your dad in the stands cheering you on—and yes, cheering, not telling you your mistakes. (As a side note, I have no issue with kids’ games where they don’t keep track of the score. Trust me, the kids know.)

You need to make every effort to be civil and be part of your kids’ lives.

My parents’ divorce screwed me up. As a child I did not have a consistent relationship with my dad. I spent my childhood hoping he would surprise me by showing up to one of my games. No matter how much hate you have for your former spouse, dads, you need to make every effort to be civil and be part of your kids’ lives. I won’t plaster statistics but instead more of the facts. Kids do better in school and in life when both parents are involved with the kids’ lives. My life would have been so different if my dad were more involved.

I had many “dark” days in my young age. I was in the sixth grade when I first attempted suicide due to depression. I took a bottle of aspirin (and I have to admit that I laugh about that part—yes, I have a bit of a sick sense of humor). I graduated from this attempt years later to slash my wrist, but was stopped by my mom. By now, I had entered the world of going to therapy for my dark moments. At first I resented being told I needed to go to therapy but later found it beneficial. Eventually, therapy taught me “why” I had this dark side to my life: I felt responsible for my parents’ divorce and felt that if they were back together, life would be back to normal. Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen and because of that, again I had feelings of being a failure.

little league pitcherIn the years, I’ve had my ups and downs but being a dad has helped me with a better outlook in life. Being a dad is the best part of my life: when my kids are struggling with failure, I get to help support them in ways I understand. My experience from my past can help the kids, but most important, you and I need to be there for our kids when they too are having their ups and downs.

My son pitched for the first time—and yes, you want the happy story of him striking out the other team, but it was more of walking the other team. When the coach finally pulled Connor, I watched to see how he would react to the situation. I knew that if that were me back at his age, my life would have crumbled. I waited a couple of minutes before talking to him in the dugout.

There’s no parenting book that tells you how to handle this situation.

There’s no parenting book that tells you how to handle this situation.I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I got to the dugout—my kid, who barely could throw the ball to home plate, was smiling like he’d just struck out the starting lineup of the New York Yankees.

Kids really are tougher these days, but they can only thrive if we as parents do a better job co-parenting so that way we can focus on what is important—our kids. Batter up!

Photo Credit: mister chippies via Compfight cc
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