Dads play many roles, and to their sons and daughters they are ultimately a superhero of sorts. They are our example of what it means to be a leader, a man, a father, a husband, a friend. Every move a dad makes, a kid wants to emulate from a young age.
With that in mind, you want to be sure that the moves you make are going to help your kids grow up to be strong—mentally and physically—and likely you want them to love the gym as much as you do. Whether fitness is your full-time job or a passion that takes up your every free moment, it's inevitable that your children will pick up on your routine and notice how important it is for you.
In honor of Father's Day, we asked the dads on our Team Bodybuilding.com roster how they hope to pass on their work ethic, health habits, and vigor for their respective sports to the tiny humans in their lives.
The biggest thing that I try to do is be an example to them through my actions. Our family has a motto: "Hildebrandts can do hard things." We chose this motto not only for the physical challenges that they take on in sports and fitness, but also the other obstacles that life will throw at them. When you discipline yourself enough physically, you learn that you can push through and overcome some very challenging circumstances outside of the gym, as well.
When my children see me pushing myself in the gym and having the discipline to eat healthy, I am showing them that they, too, can do hard things and conquer them. I want them to see that hard things are not bad things; they are simply challenges that require effort to overcome.
While lifting isn't necessarily feasible for young children, we can find other ways to challenge and teach them the same lessons that come from lifting weights and fitness in general. Our family does this through hiking together. Each hike starts with a literal and figurative uphill battle. The kids complain and whine about how they can't accomplish the immense task that they are facing; however, after a few miles, they start to realize that they are doing way more than they ever thought they could. When we finally reach the summit, you can see the sense of accomplishment they feel, as their attitude changes and they start to shine with optimism and confidence.
Even though my son is only 8 months old, I'm already getting him to do military crawls and squats—ha! But seriously, we live in a great area for family hikes, which we really love to do together to stay active. And we plan on putting him in recreational sports when he's old enough.
Of course, I hope he'll enjoy weightlifting, like I do, when the time comes. He'll definitely be familiar with the gym since he's already tagging along some days. But we'll be leaving it up to him to decide which sport or activity he enjoys the most.
My message to my kids is this: When we approach any task in life with commitment, we have succeeded regardless of outcome. We will forever be able to learn something from those experiences because of the dedication we put into it.
With anything from strength training to extra reading, the goal is not the strength obtained or book finished. Those are both tools to improve our whole selves, an opportunity to look in the mirror—metaphorically and literally—and have the ability to say, "I am better than I was yesterday."
For Robby, specifically, I focus on this and ensuring he understands that powerlifting or lifting weights is not the end game but a means to support his wrestling or football—and his health later in life. He's naturally strong but sometimes doesn't enjoy the pain of the hard work, except when the hard stuff is over! A win for me is getting him to understand that everything hard in life eventually reveals its purpose and reward.
My baby, Kamilla, is only seven, so we focus on games and introducing some movements with a dowel. We are trying to get her comfortable being challenged and conquering those difficult things. An example of that would be swimming to the bottom of the pool or crossing the pool without trying to reach for the bottom. Last year, she tackled the challenge of jumping in and being able to swim back to the edge on her own.
I want both of them to be resistant to giving in and retaliating back and forth with each other (they like to bicker). I aim to show them they have a choice in controlling their actions, no matter the external factors. This is a movement or strength that takes practice, just the same as a deep, heavy earth-moving squat.
Health and fitness to me was never a task. Never forced upon me. Through sports and feeling good overall, I realized it came from understanding that knowledge is power, structure is practice, and routine is discipline.
Blessing my children by teaching them the key to longevity is taking care of your overall self gives them the choice on how they will live their life. It also explains why it will be about 30 more years before they beat me in anything physical!
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