Don't be a hypocrite when it comes to the expectations you place on your children

Right after I graduated from college, I went to work at a local newspaper as the sports editor. I covered collegiate and professional athletics, but I mostly covered high school sports.

In my time reporting on and writing about high school sports, two things always struck me as odd.

  1. Coaches who were out of shape yet demanded their players to be physically fit
  2. Fathers who placed expectations of hard work and physical excellence from their children while not holding themselves to the same standard

The second one is the topic I want to focus on regarding its hypocrisy, but first, with regard to the coaches: I have always thought it would be a hard thing as an athlete to have a coach expect me to perform at a high level and to put in the hard work to make my body as physically capable as possible when said coach is out of shape.

In my time covering high school athletics, in some instances — and this is true at any level of athletics, but especially in high school — some coaches were not just out of shape ... they were obese. This was even true at my own high school when I was in school.

To me, it would seem a out-of-shape, overweight coach's words about the importance of conditioning and fitness would fall flat and set a poor example.

However, more important to me and my mission with Fit Dad Fitness, is the hypocrisy of fathers expecting their children to work hard, to be active, and to excel at sports — something a lot of dads ask of their children — while not doing the same in turn for themselves.

When I was a sports writer (and even now as a dad in the stands at my childrens' activities surrounded by other dads), it never sat right with me the amount of fathers who placed an enormous expectation on their childrens' shoulders to perform excellently athletically and to be physically in shape who did not also hold themselves to that same expectation.

In high school, so many fathers project their own dreams of playing collegiately on their children, especially their boys. They expect hard work. They expect them to practice hard and to put in the hard work to become good, if not great, at their sport.

Many times I watched dads keep their children after practice to make them work on conditioning and technique more, and the dad had a soda in his hand and a gut hanging over his belt.

The dad bod was everywhere in the stands at high school sporting events.

This dichotomy is hypocritical and sets a terrible example for a child — the classic "do as I say, not as I do" scenario that breeds confusion and contempt.

I could never ask my child to perform at their peak and not put in the same effort to perform at my own peak. This is true not just in fitness, but in everything I do.

And the excuse you don't play a sport anymore so you don't need to be fit is invalid. We all know, and studies have shown, that regular exercise and being physically fit and active carries over into all aspects of your life — your relationships, your job, your mental health.

It's not that you have to be physically fit to be a good father, but if you expect it of your children, you darn well better expect it of yourself. Quit giving in to your excuses (work, lack of sleep, family) and be the leader your family deserves. You don't get a pass just because you're the dad.