Bonding Over The Winter Games
Are you looking for a way to bond with your children and teenagers? I can’t imagine too many people answering that question “no.” It can be challenging today.
Many parents I speak with are concerned about how hard it is to have in-depth conversations with their kids. It’s not easy to connect over shared experiences like many of us remember doing with our parents when we were the age of our children.
I want to encourage you to use television coverage of the Olympics as a bonding experience with your children. The opening ceremony will be televised here in America on Friday (live at 6 am ET and repeated at 8 pm ET) and then various competitions will be shown on TV on and off for two weeks. There are many ways to watch the games this year. You can find TV listings here. Encourage your children to sit with you and watch. No, ask them to.
Discuss the athletes. You can get a list of all US athletes and see their pictures here. Maybe we could print this out and pray for them by name. Watch and talk about how the winners respond. How did the losers respond? What are their stories? How long have they competed and what can you find out about the way they are coached and how their country treats the Olympic athletes? What else can you find out about the country they represent?
There’s so much growth that can happen in a person who watches the games. We can get interested in new sports. We can understand more about countries we may be unfamiliar with. We might discover new heroes.
The conversations, high-fives when your favorite athlete lands a triple jump, and the collective moans when your favorite skier misses a gate and tumbles will bond you. You’ll remember what you experience together.
Also, as I’ve often taught parents, boys especially prefer to talk about meaningful things when they’re busy doing something. It’s hard to get guys to be vulnerable and authentic when you’re staring at them from across the table. So it’s possible that sitting next to each other on the couch or at least in the same room may cause one of your boys to talk about something important while watching or during commercial breaks. None of this can happen if we separate into our bedrooms.
For this short two weeks, we can watch favorite shows later on streaming devices or we can use our DVR. We can forget about the tech-free dinner table idea I promote and eat casual meals in front of the TV. Or, we could use a device to compare record totals by country and learn how injured athletes are doing who we saw compete and injure themselves the night before. Let’s think about what we can benefit from rather than what we will miss.
Have you heard me talk at a seminar about what I sometimes do when I miss my dad? I watch Gunsmoke and Bonanza. Why? Because I have memories of watching these shows with him on many Sunday nights. I also used to watch MASH with him. Now when watching an episode, I often remember how much my dad enjoyed a particular character or scene. I laugh more. As strange as it might seem, television and movies can be good for our families and us, but we have to share the experience for that to be the case.
Imagine your children watching the Winter Olympics when they’re adults. They will gather with their children in the living room or den. They’ll remember watching with you. They’ll tell stories about how your favorite athlete performed in 2018 or maybe they’ll compare the weather on the ski slopes or how far your favorite sport has developed. Maybe they’ll say, “Wouldn’t mom be amazed!”
You can do more than imagine it. You can make it happen.