Let Your Children Inspire You

Paul Harter Paul Harter
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I am the father of two girls who are now young women.  Both are successfully pursuing their life dreams in their respective fields.  I am blessed to have them in my life.

My daughter pictured above is 26 years old.  She is a screen writer in Los Angeles.  She loves boxing.  More accurately, she truly, deeply, passionately loves boxing.  She learned to love exercise early in life and already understands how it helps her manage the stress of a challenging career.  (No, the guy in the photo is not me; he’s her boxing coach).

Every parent knows that raising children is not easy.  It’s an art, not a science.  As parents, we try to do our best to instill in our children the values that we want them to have --   Independence, respect, compassion, etc.  We try to nurture their passion for things that are important in life, like education, work and healthy relationships, among many other things.  We also try to develop their appreciation for health and fitness.  Though at times we fail in one or another respect, we strive we do these things successfully.

Parenting health and fitness starts young.  We feed our children healthy, well balanced diets, and restrict less healthy foods to occasional treats.  We encourage them to participate in school sports and dance activities.   And, we play sports or exercise with them.  This is the easy part.  When my daughter was in her young teens, we went for runs together.  “Dad, slow down” was a common refrain.  I enjoyed it immensely.

 

Then, around age 16, everything changed.

My daughter started outrunning me.  In fact, she started outperforming me on the ski slopes and in just about every other physical activity we pursued as a family. She threatened my unreconstructed male ego in a big way and taught that ego an important lesson.  One day, while running on the beach with my daughter, I struggled to keep up.  Refusing to be outperformed, I followed her swiftly through a field of rocks.  Suddenly, something snapped in my knee.  The pain was intense.  I don’t know what I did, but I do know that I earned myself an expensive meniscus operation.  After that, I couldn’t run for three months.  From that moment onward, I acquiesced and accepted my daughter’s physical superiority.

These days, with the tables turned, I am thrilled any time she asks me to join her in physical activities.  When I am in Los Angeles, she invites me to her boxing circuit class.  It’s an intense work out in a room full of sweaty twentysomethings who punch boxing bags to the beat of painfully loud music with lyrics that embarrass me.   I put up with it and I love every minute of it.  I am far from the quickest or most agile in the group, but I hold my head high and I do my best.

Parenting health and fitness paid off.  Today, it is she who inspires me.

 

(At least I can still bench more than she can)

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