One of a Dad’s simple pleasures is watching TV sports together with his kids and/or stepkids. But what about those moments (like during those cringe-worth commercials) when you want to cover your child’s eyes with your hands?
Here are a few simple tips for how to watch the Super Bowl on February 7 with your daughters (and sons).
1. Spend part of Sunday (or any) afternoon tossing the ball around with your kids. Dads who are physically active with their daughters & sons increase the odds that they’ll grow up healthy and strong.
2. If she doesn’t like to play catch, take a walk or bike ride together. Let your child know that you enjoy being with her. The time together may give her an opportunity to share what is going on in her life. Kids may see our enthusiasm for sports and think we’re more interested in our favorite team than in them. Counter that perception by making time for them on Super Bowl Sunday (and every other day).
3. Watch the Super Bowl broadcast through your daughter’s eyes. Would any images, commercials, or events look or feel different if it was your kid on the screen? What does she think of all the hype about commercials during the game? Share your perceptions with her and ask her what she thinks.
4. When watching the game, be aware that the things your child or stepchild sees may be different from what you see. For example, instead of enjoying the game, is your daughter feeling inadequate while comparing her body to the “perfect” cheerleaders or hyper-sexualized women in the ads? What misconceptions might the commercials give your son about what it means to be a “real” man?
5. Ask your kids which players and coaches they admire or see as heroes. Tell them which ones you admire, and then share your reasons with each other.
6. Use the remote! If you see disrespectful or objectifying ads and images, change the channel so you, your kids, and your family don’t have those images in your home. Let your kids know why you decided to flip and ask for their feedback.
7. Compare the number of female sports announcers (many fewer) and their roles (limited to the sidelines) to the number and role of the male announcers. Tell your kids what you think about those numbers. Do they mean that your daughter can’t (or shouldn’t) be as big a fan as you or your son? Do you want your sons or daughters to have their career aspirations curtailed by their gender?
8. After you watch the Super Bowl, debate your opinions on the crucial plays and most exciting moments. Then invite your children or stepchildren to do something special together next Sunday to keep these conversations rolling. They’ll love knowing that the most important man in their lives takes them seriously-and enjoys being with them!
9. Watch the Super Bowl to become more media-literate and sensitive to your children’s experience. Pay more attention to how media portray boys, girls, women and men. When you see an advertisement or program, ask “What if it was my daughter in that picture?” and then reassess your reaction to it.
Joe Kelly is author of 6 fathering books, including Dads and Daughters: How to Inspire, Understand, and Support Your Daughter and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a New Dad.