To What Do We Commit?
My boys are stars in my eyes. Get a parent talking about their children, and they can talk for hours. This is because our children are our flesh and blood and an extension of ourselves. We have invested so much in them financially, emotionally and physically that all we want to do is praise their accomplishments to anyone who will listen.
It has been interesting raising two boys and determining both what I would and wouldn’t let them commit to and to what extent I would let them be involved in social and extracurricular activities. Both did well in school, but Barn tended to excel more in the creative arts arena while Jake excelled in any sport that he put his mind to. This didn’t mean that we didn’t encourage them to try other things – even things in which they weren’t as gifted.
There are lots of things to consider regarding extra activities – expense, time and suitability for the child (including both their aptitude for the activity and their personal likes and dislikes). Often the more children we have, the more we will have to consider both expense and time. No matter how many children we have, we also want to consider our own capacity as a parent in this area. As parents we need to remember that we are the leaders, not the children’s talents or interests.
Encourage Them, Don’t Live Through Them
When evaluating hobbies and sports, sometimes we make choices out of fantasy or we move our kids from one hobby to another hoping that they will be the next star in whatever they choose. Sometimes we are even trying to live through them, hoping that they will continue where we left off in our youth.
There is nothing wrong with guiding a child toward some activity that we love as long as they are enjoying it. After all, a large part of being involved in extra curricular activities is developing a sense of sportsmanship, team cooperation and hard work. It also can help them develop skills that the school system does not cater to. My boys between them play guitar, drums, keyboard and sing. None of this was developed through the school system. It has all come from our money for lessons and instruments, hours of sacrifice and many hours of practice put in by the boys.
Because most sports and musical instruments take years to master, as parents we need to encourage our kids to press through in the mastering of their chosen activity. If they really are failing in their repeated attempts, perhaps it is better to make a change. However with most things, the novelty quickly fades for a child, and as parents we may find ourselves moving from sport to sport or hobby to hobby without our children learning any discipline or mastering any skill.