A Letter to My Eight-year-old Son on Super Bowl Sunday

Hey buddy,

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Today, we’re going to visit our friends’ house to watch the Super Bowl. Two years ago, I wrote a letter to your sister about Super Bowl Sunday. There are a few things I want to tell you now, too.

Some parents don’t let their kids watch the Super Bowl. I think there are good reasons for this (more on that in a sec). But the Super Bowl is the best part of February in Wisconsin. I’m sorry we make you live here. (Just kidding—you and I both know Wisconsin is the best.)

You will see TV ads today—more than you’ve seen in the past year, I bet. Super Bowl ads are sometimes very funny and really clever. I like that. But they often promise that buying their product or service will make your life way better or make you more important or something. That’s not true.

The parents who don’t let their kids watch the Super Bowl are sometimes concerned about the consumerism, violent hits, or the wasted time. But mostly they are concerned about how women are shown and thought about. Men are the players, the coaches, the referees, and most of the announcers.

Women do a little announcing. They are also the cheerleaders. And they’re in a lot of ads. The ads sometimes show people almost naked. They are usually women, except for David Beckham. I want you to know that women are beautiful (like your mom) but that they’re also smart and important (like your mom).

That’s why we’re not staying home and playing chess today. I want to teach you to face the lies—about stuff and about women—that will be shown to millions and millions of people today. I want you to start to learn what to pay attention to, as well as what you should name as wrong, unhelpful, and unhealthy. I want you to learn to think carefully about what you watch and look at, to value and love other people, and to be a strong leader.

It’s easier to learn it now than later. And trust me, there will be a lot more to learn later.

You are a great kid.



What else would you say to boys and young men about what they will see today? Leave a comment. 

  • Wendy Hu-Au

    I love how you’re talking about this with your son. In a study on racial implicit bias, they found that counter stereotypical images and positive team working experiences with people whom we have implicit biases against was more effective at reducing bias than simply telling people to have more empathy. I wonder if the next step for kids and gender bias is to have experiences with counter stereotypical images of women. http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/07/19/203306999/How-To-Fight-Racial-Bias-When-Its-Silent-And-Subtle

  • http://www.happydad.org Joe Jestus

    Great letter Adam…

    I would rather my son face the world with me now, then on his own someday.

    I believe that’s the model we are given from our Heavenly Father.

    Transformation never comes from retreat and sin is not to be feared. Only spending time in the presence of Love can bring transformation of ourselves and thereby our world.

    If I want my son to desire spending time in God’s presence as he faces the world as an adult, the best way is to model that through having him spend time in my presence as he faces the world as a child.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Jose

    Right on! As the father of twin girls I appreciate the letter to your son.

  • http://makingthedayscount.org Clay

    Great letter, I am sad I didn’t find it and read it earlier. The US has an interesting culture and it seems to stress all the wrong things. If we used TV and the media as a measure of what is important in America, we would get a ticket for DWI or driving while impaired… but fortunately, enough of us slow down to look around and check out what is going on around us. I was hoping for a different result, but I did like the Chrysler-Bob Dylan commercial. I am now on to the Olympics and rooting for the USA. Especially, the women’s hockey team and a former student – looking for gold! Have a wonderful week.