By most measures, I’m a successful father at this point in my kids’ lives. They’re fairly well adjusted, smart, independent, and so on. They have little trouble making friends and, at least with my almost 18-year-old son, doing so without betraying who they truly are.
But I still feel a bit like a failure.
You see, while most parents probably feel that way to some degree, for me, it’s about my kids and their health. My son is badly obese, though he’s lost about 25 pounds in the last few months.
My daughter, however, at 7-years-old, isn’t. And I aim to keep it that way, which is why I got her a kettlebell of her own. My hope, to help her never get to where I was or where her brother is.
To be clear, I’m not going to tell you how to get your kids involved in exercise. I don’t actually know much about that. I’m still trying to do better with my kids.
But I do know my daughter is an impressive kid.
While her brother is more of an intellectual, my daughter is…odd. You see, the photo above is a five pound kettlebell I got her so she could do some training. She’d watched me do it and thought it looked fun, so I got her something to train with.
I’d also gotten myself a second 16 kg kettlebell and the two arrived on the same day.
I opened mine. It was sitting on the floor as I opened my daughter’s. I called her to see what I got her, but as I was removing the last bit of plastic off of hers, I had turned around.
When I turned back to face her, there was this little girl–roughly 45 lbs in total body weight–holding a 35 lbs kettlebell in her hands, off the ground, with a bit of strain but not too much.
In other words, the girl is strong.
Part of it is, I think, she hasn’t gotten it in her head she can’t do some things, so she just does them until reality tells her otherwise. Regardless, though, I was pretty impressed.
But I don’t want her training with something that heavy. Not right now, hence the five-pounder.
Since it’s hers, though, I asked her if she wanted it to be pink (her favorite color). She said yes, which meant it was time to paint a kettlebell.
The problem is, I don’t know if this will be enough. I have a say in her diet, thankfully, so she eats fairly healthy-ish. But fitness isn’t just about body weight.
I want her to be strong, to stay strong. I want her to understand that the world is there for her, but she’s got to be tough enough to deal with the ugliness that comes with the good.
I want to raise her to be a Barbarian.
The problem, at least for me, is how to raise her that way without pushing her one way or another. If I push too hard for her to train physically, either now or in the future–I may turn her off on exercise completely. I’ve seen that kind of thing happen before, after all.
With kids, there’s a tightrope we all try to walk. We want to equip them to make good decisions about life, but we also have to be careful not to push them too hard so as to not ultimately lead them to make wrong decisions. It’s not easy.
Training the next generation should be something we’re all down for, but we live in a world where that’s tough. Kids are bombarded with feedback from a society that can’t tell the difference between a parent concerned about their children’s health and future and the little league dad who is grooming their kid for the major leagues.
All of that makes it difficult for parents to know just how to navigate the world with our kids.
Frankly, I’ve got nothing, either. I wish I did, but I’m still trying to figure it out myself.