My son and I were watching the French Open today. Last weekend, we caught some English soccer (aka “football”), and we regularly watch the Red Sox, especially when my dad’s around. I know Helen and I have made an effort to expose our son to professional sports as well as getting him involved in playing them. Not that we’re trying to make him into a star athlete, but we know that many of his peers watch a lot of sports, and we don’t want to put him at a disadvantage. Watching professionals is one way to learn skills (along with practice, of course), and even if it’s a sport he’ll never play, knowing the lingo gives him a cultural literacy that should serve him well on the playground. (We still mute most of the commercials, though—there are certain aspects of cultural literacy that aren’t appropriate for preschoolers.)
We’ve noticed, however, that when his peers with opposite-sex parents watch sports, it’s usually with their dads. Yes, there’s no reason they couldn’t watch sports with their moms, and I’m sure some do, but by and large it seems to be a dad thing. This is the point at which the more conservative minded will jump up and down and say “See? A dad is necessary,” to which I reply, “Just because this is usually a man’s role doesn’t mean it always has to be. Now move over, you’re blocking the game.”
Viewing sports with our son wasn’t a stretch for us because we played and followed sports long before becoming parents. I find, however, that I’m making more of an effort to turn on men’s sports as well as women’s, and to watch the sports that my son himself is playing (like soccer).
I was wondering if our experience was similar to other lesbian moms out there. Do you turn on sports you wouldn’t otherwise watch in order to expose your children to them, especially if this is something their peers do with their male parents? Do you make a point to watch athletes of a certain gender, based on the gender of your kids (or do you make a point to watch both)? Do you think children with lesbian moms in general watch less sports than those with a straight dad in the household? Are there advantages and disadvantages either way? (Certainly there are a number of professional athletes not appropriate as role models for anyone.) Your thoughts?