Saturday, 8 October 2011

Get Ready to Rumble!

Here’s something I find fascinating. In every Dads group I’ve run over the last three years, at least one guy in the room has said something like this:

  • “My wife/partner tells me off for wrestling with the kids. She says I’m teaching them to be violent…”
  • “My wife/partner won’t let me wrestle with the kids…”
  • “My wife/partner makes me feel guilty for wrestling with the kids, so I try not to do it anymore…”

And then each time the fella finishes his comment much the same way:
  • “…but I feel like it’s ok. So is it?”
My answer:
  • “Yes. It is.”
I could finish this there. But. Every answer has to be qualified. And then when you’re writing (or speaking), you feel like adding more of your opinion as well. So here it is…

It’s a very very healthy thing for a Dad to play-wrestle with his kids. (Notice I added play there?) We’re not talking about molestation. We’re not talking about Dads beating up on their children or pushing them around. We’re talking about play.

Kids NEED to be physically touched by both parents. And at various ages and for various reasons, it becomes uncool to kiss or cuddle with daddy. So then what’s a dad to do? And what’s a kid to do? Shake hands? Nahhhh, you grab each other around the shoulder and start rumbling.
One of the other things this achieves, particularly with boys, is that it’s a way of teaching them boundaries, of when they’ve crossed the line and getting too rough. For boys to pit their strength against a bigger stronger male is a valuable way of learning to empathize and control-self.
Alright. So you’re saying (or your missus is reading this and saying) “Who are you Pete? What do you know about it? Why should I believe you? What makes you the expert?”

Okay, if you don’t trust me, go read these articles below. Then google dads wrestling with children. Or you could meet my sons and see the real life effects of a decade of Dads and Sons play-wrestling. Yes, I’ve gotten a couple of fat lips and a fair few bruises (and they’ve gotten virtually none!), but my 15 year old still gives me a hug. They’re both empathetic human beings (except with each other!). And they both play rough games with their mates without it ever escalating… Anyway, go read these other articles.

And feel free to share your stories (and objections if you have 'em) in the comments area.

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