Written by Denise Mersmann
Many years ago before I had kids of my own, I went as a fill in for mom’s night at my nephew’s high school family week football practice. His mom was out of town on business and it was clear when he asked if I would go in her place that having someone there for the “mom and son” activities was important to him.
I remember having a great time trying to do the drills and laughing as the boys continued to show up the women who loved and cared for them. Even though he wasn’t my son, I was proud to be a part of something that was important to him and to see what happened behind the scenes rather than on the field on game night.
At the end of the week, the coach talked to the parents and something he said that night profoundly changed how I would parent my own children. The coach shared that throughout his playing career, from grade school through college, his parents attended every game. Sometimes when his sister had an activity parents divided up, but he always knew that there was someone in the stands just for him. He went on to say that his parents were not wealthy people and that they sacrificed vacation time and gotten by on little sleep, staying in cheap hotels and driving through the night to make it possible to see all his games. Then he said something that still guides me 22 years later. He told us that as a kid, even through college, that his parents making his games a priority showed him that his sport was important to them and that made it even more important to him. He said that when he was tired and thinking maybe he wasn’t good enough, that knowing his parents felt his football career was worth their time and sacrifice just made him want to do better.
As our kids have participated in activities through the years, we have gotten as involved as possible in more ways that I care to remember. We have enjoyed the time with our kids and getting to know others parents. Through it all, it seemed our kids liked having us around and appreciated that we took the time. But it wasn’t until recently that we actually realized the impact of our time and effort.
When our oldest child started Sunday school, we were asked to volunteer. For fourteen years, my husband taught Sunday school every week (ok he took some summers off) with one of our kids. We really hadn’t considered that they thought much about it until this past summer when, over lunch, our 17 year old son said “I loved having dad as my Sunday school teacher. Everyone wanted to be in his small group, tell him what was going on in their lives and have him notice them. And I was so proud that he was my dad.”
If a football player gets the message from his parents showing up to his games that football is a high priority and they value it, what kind of amazing message can we send our kids when we volunteer in their Sunday school class?