High school football season starts tonight here in our area. I’m guessing that the yelling coming from the parent section will just a little bit louder than it was last year. Why’s that? Because the virus of vicarious living has had another year to spread.
We live through our kids. We wear them like suits or drive them like our cars. . . using them to fulfill our own unfulfilled childhood dreams. . . putting them on display to bring validation to ourselves. . . we use our children to scream “Hey! Look at me!” . . . trying to find redemption through the strides and achievements of our kids.
I remember going to a high school football game several years ago to watch some players from my youth group. One especially boisterous dad kept screaming “encouragement” to his son. His “encouragement” not only had heads turning to see which dad it was who was humiliating his boy on the field, but heads turned in sadness as many of us, I’m sure, felt sorry for the boy on the field. At halftime, one of the father’s friends who was sitting several rows over half-jokingly yelled this to the dad: “Hey Jack! You’d think that’s you out there on the field.” Everyone heard it. And everyone heard the dad’s enthusiastic reply: “It is!!!!” At least he was being honest.
We don’t just do this with football. We do it with all kinds of athletic, academic, and appearance pressure. We do it in our family photos.
If you attend a high school football game tonight, keep an eye on the stands. And then think about these words from Carl Jung: “Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment, and especially on their children, than the unlived lives of the parents.”
Remember, it’s not just football folks. It’s anything our kids are involved in. Are you living through your kids? If you’re not sure, take a look at your Facebook page. . . .