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With trophies for karate achievements in tow, it was a hug with his son that Dustin Block will probably never forget.
Jennifer Hott-Leitsch said her daughter and her are now “each other’s biggest cheerleaders,” as they push one other to higher levels in figure skating.
The lifelong memories being made and the bond established with their kids are priceless and endless for both Block and Hott-Leitsch due to one idea: Taking up and learning a sport or other activity alongside a child.
Have you ever taken up an activity with your kid, jumping into something you never considered until your child expressed their interest?
What kind of inspirational stories has it produced being equals and learning something new together? How much further bonding has happened as a result?
Below our stories will be a chance to share yours. Don’t be shy! It’ll be your submissions that inspire others, not just ours.
But if you need some inspiration, here are three of our stories at Graham Media Group about parent-child bonding through learning something new together.
Dustin Block and his son, Eliot
During the pandemic, Dustin Block said his son Eliot, now 9 years old, started taking up karate.
He was learning basics and performing maneuvers in the family living room, and then when it was safe, he started to attend in-person classes.
“I’d watch during his classes and try to follow along to help him learn moves and different forms,” Block said. “Somewhere along the way I found myself punching and kicking along with him, and not long after walked into my first adult class.”
The two started at the same dojo with the same rank, although Block joked it was way easier physically on Eliot to perform moves than it was him.
“My body doesn’t bend like the sport demands, especially if you’re out of shape,” he quipped.
Of course, it led to some good-natured and funny disagreements.
“Once we were working on a weapons kata with a bo, or staff, and we disagreed on the next move,” Block said. “I pulled Dad rank and said, ‘I’m 99% sure it’s like this.’ Just then sensei walked out and said, ‘Nope, Eliot’s right.’ To this day, whenever we disagree, he says to me: ‘Are you 99% sure that’s right?’”
But both started to learn and grow in karate together, practicing moves with each other and trying to climb the ranks as a tandem, even if they were in different classes.
“At the dojo, a lot of the parent-child, father-son dynamics fall away,” Block said. “We’re simply ‘karatekas’ trying to learn together as peers, which I’ve really loved. There’s not a lot of places, at least in my life, where young and old work together as equals.”
The highlight of it all so far for both came at a recent tournament, when both walked away with trophies and Dustin told Eliot to go to their sensei and say thanks.
Before doing that though, Eliot did something else.
“First, he turned and gave me a big hug and I hugged him right back,” Block said. “In karate, we help each other and that’s been special.”
Jennifer Hott-Leitsch and her daughter, Chloe
Jennifer Hott-Leitsch said her daughter Chloe had taken up figure skating at age 6, but she was too busy with work to attend many of her practice sessions at a local ice skating rink.
That changed when rinks reopened following the pandemic and Hott-Leitsch had an opportunity to attend more practices because of remote work.
Hott-Leitsch was there almost daily for practices when she all of a sudden got an idea.
“I asked Chloe if she would be OK if I learned to skate with her, and she thought it was the coolest idea,” Hott-Leitsch said. “So, I asked her coach if she would be willing to teach me. I honestly didn’t think I would go anywhere within the sport. I just wanted to be able to skate with Chloe. I started three days before my 45th birthday, and then I fell in love with figure skating.”
So Hott-Leitsch put on a pair of skates, and.... proceeded to fall.
Lots and lots of times.
But not to worry. It was all in great fun.
“When it clicks, it is the best feeling in the world,” she said. “Then you move onto the next skill and start the process again. That being said, skating is for EVERYONE. Anyone can learn to skate. You just have to be willing to laugh at yourself when you fall.”
Both Jennifer and Chloe are on competitive synchro teams for their respective age groups at their local rink, where they have competed at events and won medals.
More importantly though has been all the bonding time she has had with Chloe as they skate and learn more about the sport together.
“With Chloe, we can have conversations about what we are feeling after a practice session and we both get it,” Hott-Leitsch said. “We get the excitement or the frustration that the other is feeling. We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders.”
The best part besides getting to spend time with each other? Other parents and their daughters were noticing the bond between Jennifer and Chloe at the rink and were inspired.
“When Chloe and I started skating together, there was only a few parents skating with their kiddos,” Hott-Leitsch said. “Now, we have a LOT of parents skating with kids. To the point that in our annual skating club winter ice show, we have a dedicated number for parents and kids.”
Keith Dunlap and his son, Micah
Ok, it’s my turn to share a story as the author.
Admittedly, this isn’t as heartwarming or inspiring as the previous two mentioned. But I do have a quick story of my own about taking up an activity with a child.
Our family in 2021 had a chance to get a place in Bradenton, Florida, and one of the features of the complex was it had pickleball courts.
Pickleball? What was that?
So I decided to buy some paddles and balls and find out. When I first went with my now 9-year old son Micah, neither one of us have had ever played.
But we have gravitated to this fast-growing sport together.
We love hitting the ball back and forth to each other, smile and laugh all the time while doing it, and are now regular visitors to the pickleball courts when in Florida.
Even better was that my wife and mother-in-law started doing the same thing one evening, hitting a pickleball for the first time and enjoying every minute doing so together.
Ok, those are our stories.
We want to hear yours now! See below on how you can submit photos or stories on how you’ve bonded with a child through taking up a sport or other activity together.