Monday, March 4, 2013

Getting through to the Fun


There is a delicate balance at times for parents, between on the one hand "making" your child do something they really don't enjoy and on the other hand leaving them to do only what they are passionate about and enjoy immediately.

I am a middle-path kind of thinker on most every issue, and this is no exception.  I'm not going to follow the path of the Tiger Mother, but I also won't leave the kids to follow only their own interests.  My experience is that we don't always know what we'll enjoy.  Our foray into basketball this season is an example.

Carbon had chosen to do gymnastics in the fall, but after a few months he was frustrated and unhappy with it.  So we had a talk, and I said he could quit gymnastics but that he should pick a winter sport to take it's place in our physical education line-up.  He chose to try basketball.

The first few practices were hard - he wasn't used to running that much, he really didn't have many skills with a basketball, and he didn't know the rules of the game.  He spent the hour looking unhappy and red in the face and glaring at me imploringly.  He said he hated it after his first practice, and strongly resisted going back to the second practice.  I might have caved to the pressure of that, but both his dad and I wanted him to give it a good try - more than just one or two practices.  So we made him go back.

He loved the excitement of the first game, and as his skills and stamina improved he started to really enjoy the sport.  By the end of six weeks, he's saying that he "loves basketball" and making plans to sign up for it again in the fall.  If we had quit after that first practice, he would have been left hating basketball, and never worked through the hard parts to find the fun parts.

There are many things in life where we have to develop a few basic skills before we can really start having fun with it.  I see part of my role as a parent to be to help the kids through the tough parts, when their own motivation may wain, so they can experience the fun accomplishments that come after.

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