Football Helmets Hit TLC

by Onyeka Nchege on September 7, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, my son Kalu sent me a last-minute text message inviting me to a “helmet striping” event for his Lovejoy High School football team. I had no idea what a “helmet striping” event was, but something told me I should drop everything and be there for him. Often times, we don’t know when—or where—we will make memories with our children, especially when it comes to father and son.

As it turns out, this “helmet striping” event was organized by the team’s Head Coach, designed for fathers to help their sons put the stripes and school logo on their brand-new football helmets. Sounds pretty simplistic, but the coach took something simple and turned it into a powerful bonding exercise for fathers and sons:

First, he separated the fathers and sons into different locker rooms. He said he had never done this before, but the idea came to him and he thought he would do something with it. The coach then asked the fathers to write a letter to their sons—who were in the other locker room—while the sons were asked to do the same in the other locker room. That really resonated with me as an opportunity for me to do something different than I would ordinarily would do.

The whole point of the exercise was to highlight the importance of the father-son relationship, shedding light on the fact that as fathers, we don’t always do a good job of expressing our feelings for our sons. This then perpetuates the idea that as men, we don’t express feelings of love—the whole “nature vs. nurture” thing.

Growing up, boys are often told things like, “don’t cry” or “be tough” or “be a man.” Unfortunately, what probably started out as a well-intentioned phrases has now turned into the norm, only further discouraging eachother from sharing our feelings. We have been trained as boys to repress our feelings so we are not seen as weak or vulnerable.

The experience reminded me that, as fathers, we need to teach our sons that it’s not only okay to show emotion, it is important. And the best way to do that is to model it to them. I call it the T.L.C. approach.

T – Try on transparency. Sons need to know that their father is their hero, but that their hero is not perfect. Even Superman weakens in the presence of kryptonite. It’s ok to be human especially in front of your son.

L – Love them unconditionally. Don’t love them just because of their accomplishments. Love them in the midst of their failures and remind them how their self-worth is not measured by their accomplishments, but how they much they love others. Love is a verb. It requires action.

C – Create lasting memories. Yes, take them to sporting events or the movies. But don’t let that be the only way you connect with them. Find activities that will allow you to engage in real conversations. Find out what their interests are and invest time in them.

As your son sees you connecting with him on a more emotional level, you will not only reap the benefits of a closer relationship with your son, you’ll be modeling what true fatherhood looks like. And one day, perhaps you’ll have the blessing to witness him model that to his son.

Take Action: Take some time and show a little T.L.C. to your son today!

Leadership on the GO…..It’s O.N

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A recent finalist for the 2017 ORBIE CIO of the Year award, Onyeka brings more than 20 years of experience leading teams, developing strategies and building technology solutions. He has also led the creation and integration of technology solutions for a network of retail store franchises and distributors across North and Central America. Onyeka contributes to CIO Review magazine and shares his insights and experience with peers and colleagues via his own blog, Before joining Interstate Batteries in 2015, Onyeka led teams at Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated, where he modernized technology practices and powered business processes for daily, on-the-street use. He is a graduate of the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University and currently serves on the EVANTA Dallas CIO Governing Body. If Onyeka were not at Interstate, he’d find another way to combine his three biggest passions: his faith, helping others, and, of course, information technology. Because ultimately, as he puts it, “we can’t help everyone, but everyone can always help someone.”

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Gordon Folz September 13, 2017 at 8:34 pm

Onyeka, glad you shared this event for us to experience a little through your words. In today’s busy life, you can’t remind us enough that we need to take every opportunities to instill into our sons (and daughters) character and virtue that is so important for a father to do. We never should relinquish this sole responsibility to another and when we can share with those of mutual like character to participate, we should. Together my sons and I went through a class called “Raising a Modern Day Knight”. It was meant to purposely make sure our sons understood the importance of strong moral character and how to treat others with kindness and respect . . . a little LTC. Keep sharing and thank you. – Gordon


avatar Onyeka Nchege September 16, 2017 at 9:17 am

Wow Gordon that’s awesome. Thanks for the add. Love the “Raising a Modern Day Knight”. What a great class. Thanks Gordon.


avatar Paris Fogle September 19, 2017 at 10:40 am

Onyeka – That was a great article – thank you for sharing! There is a lot to appreciate in this article, but I especially like that you call out ‘love for others is the measurement of self-worth’ – wonderful advice for building good character and the heart of a good steward! It all reminds me of what we are trying to accomplish as coaches at Let Me Run. Great article if you get a chance check it out –
Thanks for setting such a great example!


avatar Onyeka Nchege October 1, 2017 at 7:04 pm

Thanks Paris! It’s all about stewardship. I will check out the article.


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