I am guilty. Guilty of pushing my kids a bit in some areas and not allowing them to always choose the direction of their lives. I do it often under the guise of knowing what is best as their parent.I have applied pressure to succeed in areas that they showed some talent, but just weren't interested in participating. I know I am not alone in this fault.
The obvious first arena where this is most often witnessed is in children's sports. This day, everyone wants to push to the next level. We can't just play recreational soccer one day a week, we have to try out for special teams, travel out of town, attend special clinics. We can't just learn how to swim for the enjoyment and fun of it, we have to practice 3-5 times a week, travel to weekend meets and clock our kids' times. Their success (dropped time) or failure (added time) can dictate our mood for the weekend.
I have seen it in school and academics as well. Parents who copy schoolwork and workbooks to prevent an unsavory grade. What good does this serve the child? It kept the child on all A honor roll. Is this a reflection of his determination and hard work, or the parent's need to see their child's name on that published list?
Do we do it out of fear of our kids not being the best at whatever they are doing? Is it a one-up-man mentality? Are we always try to stay ahead of the game? Do we view our kids' success as a reflection on our success?
This past weekend, my family opted to forgo attending a swim meet. One meet would have sent us out of state for the entire weekend. The other, closer to home, would have gobbled up part of a Saturday and Sunday. It would have been Sadie's last 8 and under meet and she could have done quite well, possibly winning a couple of events. It was also the last attempt at achieving a new time standard which would have put the kids in a higher level meet in December.
Instead, we attended a magic show as a family. One child was able to attend a sleepover birthday. We attended a wonderfully powerfully and spiritually magnificent basketball game to raise funds for a boy whose cancer has relapsed. One child attended a Renaissance Fair and developed a friendship that is not part of his every day circle. I painted, cleaned and prepared for the week ahead. It was a relaxed, no-pressure, no stress weekend.
Sometimes I think if everyone would just play by the same rules - no organized sports, no homework, no afterschool activities, no personal electronics or cell phones UNTIL MIDDLE SCHOOL then would kids be forced to be more like kids? Can you imagine a world like that?
Tell me your thoughts.