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Raising Boys Without Sports

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There's a little bit of a taboo among parents, particularly suburban American parents, about having boys who don't like sports. Personally, I could care less if my sons like sports as long as they're active (we're working on it) and healthy (we have our ups and downs). We implement family walks, family bike rides, and going to the local marinas and walking up and down the docks to get our exercise at sunset, near the water.

We swim outside in the warm weather and here and there at local indoor pools during the winter. We play Dance Party. And Hip Hop Abs.

But there's this underground vein of amazement and secrecy among us proud, confused and often bookish parents of boys who don't play or even really like sports. We don't admit it to each other until we're certain the other person has a similar situation because we're sick to death of judgment by others - "Oh, it's up to you to get them involved," (we've tried, we've even coached soccer, signed them up for everything from Tae Kwon Do to Capoeira) or, "In our home, it's a requirement that our kids do at least one sport," (we can require it too and will face the ongoing daily battle and tears, the lack of energy and inspiration and coaches questioning why on earth we're still pushing).

So when we find out about each other we breathe enormous sighs of relief - kindred spirits, raising mugs of seltzer with lime instead of beer, here's to you and our also not "getting" when hockey season starts.

My boys have struggled with their weight their whole lives; the older one having feet, knee and coordination issues that have kept him perpetually uncomfortable with running and passing, shooting and hitting,and my younger one who is naturally gifted at every single darn thing he tries, from Karate to football and back again, but just hates the over and over again feel of daily drills.

I have consulted with our pediatrician, with psychologists, other parents and my own conscience and finally realized you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

What we can require are daily family walks. Even in colder weather these are fine - bundle up and let's go! Their legs get stronger and they manage their weight, and, funnily enough, my husband and I do as well. Kind of crazy, we also end up having family dinners together more as well, as we sort of plan the evening not around computers and games and movies, but healthy dinner time and then a good long walk. Our walks have now taken us to two gorgeous local marinas, the beach, along wonderful local trails, and down to the center of town (that's a big one!)

Hopefully this will not only keep my boys healthy and active, but will also reinforce some form of lifelong exercise for them that doesn't have to involve shooting, passing or guarding.

Just put one foot in front of the other.

And eat oranges, not ice cream.

Aimee Boyle is a regular contributor to EmpowHER. She lives in CT with her family.

Edited by Alison Stanton

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