Hockey Dads

These dads warmed my heart.

Stories that share how you can bond with your family.

By: Larissa Mills, B.A, M.Ed.

These Hockey DAD’s and daughters!

I walked into my sons hockey practice looking for a place to sit down and work. There were loads of people.  I saw one dad with a little girl, who looked like, ‘Laura Ingles’, (yes, I am dating myself here) who moved her napsack over and said, “Here is a spot”.  I sat down to collect my thoughts as I watched the warm up. I heard various discussions happening all around. 

One dad I recognized, sat on my other side with his adorable little girl. He took out a backpack that had barbies, snacks and colouring. He talked to her about her day. I mean really talked to her, it was an unforced conversation that was not perfunctory. He cared about what she thought.  He asked her about music class, recess, the friends she played with and my heart skipped a beat. This was true engagement and he was atuned to her. She was about 4 years old, later she told me she was 4.5. 

The dad on my left was drawing monsters with pretty pony bodies. Quite creative actually. He would draw an outline and his daughter would neatly draw  inbetween the lines. A slightly different conversation about colours, favourite animals and shapes but, they were talking. He was equally engaged and happy to just focus on her. I was so happy to witness this and was ecstatic that it was happening. It was good parenting.  

 I love seeing rink rats. For those younger parents reading, those are kids running around a hockey arena. It is usually like a game of ‘chase’ the leader. I loved doing it myself. 

These dads talked, coloured and played barbies. Both girls interacted with me too. We enjoyed a laugh at their Barbie outfits. Their girls both asked me if I liked their work.  I replied, “Those are very creative ideas you have, you are going to be designers' ', to them both. At various times each dad talked to me and thanked me for putting up with their children,  I said to them seperately, “I am delighted to talk to your daughter, she is happy and has a curiousity for learning that has been nurtured. You will have very happy girls who will tell you everything. I am saying this as an older mom with a 16 year old girl. Keep talking to them about anything.

1 hour a day [of screen time]. Children under 18 months are not allowed on any screen. The Canadian Paediatric Society

One of the dads knew what I did and asked, how much screen time is too much? I shared that "The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends, 1 hour a day. Children under 18 months are not allowed on any screen." 

I told both dads they are doing such a great job at bonding.  One dad commented, “That our parents did it without thinking, it was automatic. Many parents today don’t sit and talk with their children.”  He commented that parents aren’t parenting as much anymore. I wanted to share that parents have approximately 5-6 hours a day, 42-45 hours plus a week to spend with their children. Now, this includes: sports, activiies and play time with their friends, so, maybe a  little less. 30 less hours a week of socialization are being cut.

Now in the car, kids are on their devices or there are movies playing from the seats, no talking, no bonding. At home, silence, on devices, all separately listening to their own videos. At dinner time, the TV is on or in some households, there are children watching their own devices with headphones while eating. Not only will children not develop their speech to the standards expected, they fall  behind in vocab and sentence structure.  The linguistic part of their brains are not developing until much later says, Dr. John Hutton, from Cinncinati Children’s Medical Hospital. He is MRI’ing children’s brains and finding that children aren’t talking to anyone, not even each other. They are staring at screens, not developing their speech or learning. He explains that their brains are in a zombie land, absorbing the dopamine,  the brain is addicted to. His results demonstrated that children with high amounts of screen time had grey areas in the linguistic part of their brains, while children who had little screen time had more active, pink areas in this part of their brains. Screen times are holding development back.

Speech and language therapists are seeing children who are 4 years old coming in with very little speech and vocabulary. JK/SK teachers interviewed, mentioned students have no people skills, they can’t: cooperate, communicate, control themselves, concentrate or compromise. Their speech is half of what it was 10 years ago. Behaviour has become violent, combative and disruptive the teachers said.  One teacher finds it disturbing when a screen turns on or a smart board, they all sit and watch it like they are meditating. They only want screens, not humans. This teacher started becoming quite emotional about it. She shared that schools should not allow personal devices and hope parents stop letting children on them. 

In conclusion, the more we talk to our children, the more happy and successful they will be. If you let them on personal devices for extended periods, you are setting them up for addictions and mental disorders.  It dramatically increases their chances of not developing: socially emotionally, academically and physically. 

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