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March 28, 2007


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I don't think there is anything any of us are "supposed to be." I strive to give my children the tools they need to be able to pursue whatever interests them at any time in their life. I want my children to have the power to educate themselves - that's the best thing we can teach them.

So your post actually made me cry.. for several reasons.. Yes I am hormornal, I have two wonderful girls of my own (3) & (6), I'm a stay at home mom trying to be super woman and run my own business from home so that we can stop living pay check to pay check and on am on the cusp of turning 40 ... Wow that makes me cry. Anyway I loved knowing you and obviously others.. have the same thoughts & questions as to being a good mom and knowing what's right.. We all do the best we can and hope that we are providing our children with what we had or better.

Don't over-think it, Kristen.

I have to agree with HBM regarding exposing them to lots of things and see what sticks.

Early on, we took my Olivia to the American Museum of Natural History, and for the last 4 years, she has insisted that she is going to be a Paleontologist (she is 8, now). Who knows what she will want to be next week.

Give the best, most rounded education you can, arm the kids with good decision making abilities, and hang on for the ride.



I think you just have to go with your gut...in all mothering aspects, your gut leads you the best...

Let her try things and if she decides she's 'through' with it, let her stop and try something else. I suppose that is the only way to find out if they really love something. My girls take gymnastics and if you knew me, or saw them, you'd know that we are NOT gymnastically inclined. But, they LOVE it, so we keep going.

I think it gets sucky when a parent insists the child continue doing something even after the child is 'done' with it. Also, there seems to be this insane trend to push kids to try EVERYTHING at a super young age. They need to start learning a language by 3, ballet by 5, soccer by 6! I get tired just thinking about it.

Funny, but this topic is not one of my worries. Maybe it should be...My daughter has a high probability that she will be 6'2" like her mother, grandmother, aunts (full height at the age of 12), so ballet is a must, and she loves it. And I fully plan on forcing a horse on her...mostly so she is very very busy as a teenager (as I was)...other than that I don't want to overschedule her. I figure she'll let me know if she has an interest in something particular. As for myself....too busy for "what ifs"..when I get sick of what I'm doing (career) I figure I'll change it up...never too old to reinvent yourself!

I often wonder if I wouldn't have pursued dance if my parents had encouraged me a little more. It wasn't that they dis-encouraged me, but they kind of let me drop out at a time where some gentle coaxing probably would have kept me in. (We didn't have enough money for studio lessons, so it's probably moot.) I do believe there is a fine line to walk, as a parent, between offering lots of options so the kid finds what he/she likes and still encouraging them in endeavors that they may not see the value in right away (like me with dance recitals).

In my heart of hearts, even though I love dance, I know I'm a writer. That's something I figured out all on my own.

Bossy thinks you can give a child time to make a few of their own decisions and still allow them plenty of time to excel in that arena. A three-year old taking various classes sounds like the recipe for burning out too early. Of course look at you versus Bossy, who posts about shutter colors and naps six hours a day.

I struggle with this, as we all do, but I believe it's important to expose our kids to as much as possible, see where they naturally gravitate, and encourage (or discourage) those things. For example, YES to swimming and Spanish class. NO to Cartoon Network.

I'm not really a believe in a 'supposed to be,' just trying lots of things, and trying to find one or two we're passionate about.

I kind of wish my parents had kept on me to play the violin. My lazy ass didn't feel like practicing after the novelty wore off. I'd do anything to play an instrument now.

A really thoughtful post, Kristen. And one, I think, without a definite answer.

I will never know how much I missed by not being dragged around town trying each and every extracurricular activity out there. But I do know that I gained so much by being allowed to PLAY with neighborhood friends after school. No one talks about unstructured play anymore but it was sooo much a part of my growing up and I cherish the memories of b-ball and soccer and kick the can and kill the carrier and all the other stuff we had fun doing.

I was really happy with the activities my parents encouraged when I was a child - music constantly, and a sampling of other things like figure skating, baton twirling, skiing, and such. I would love for my son to have as many opportunities, but hope that I can keep my own wishes in check and truly see what his interests are.

" And if I mislead her, will she be able to come around, full circle, and be where she was supposed to be all along? "

I think we all do, Kristen. I really do.

I wonder these things about R. all the time. I have a hard time reading her about what her interests really are. Tho' I did get big clue this week -- "Mommy, I don't want to work inside when I grow up. I want an outside job."

Message received ...

I wasn't pushed into anything or really exposed to activities by my parents. If I wanted to quit a chosen activity, they didn't exactly encourage me to press on. Maybe this wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but I plan on exposing my kids to different activities. I also want to help them pursue and not quit the things in which they are interested.

These are tough questions. When to push, when to back off. When to let them be lazy, when to crack down.

Please don't do what my mom did, though, and every time I got tired of something, say "You never COULD stick to anything." That belief is so ingrained in me that I have to stop myself from staying in things that don't suit me just to prove I can stick it out.

This is so great Kristen. Really thoughtful.

I believe there's no one path for us, like there's no one love (sorry romantic idealists). There are many paths, some at different times in lives. So encourage her to enjoy the many journeys she's on. The destinations aren't really as important.

The story of my life. If I hadn't gone into music, I wouldn't have met Tom...and so on and so on and so on. There are days when I think that wouldn't have been so bad. ; ) I try not to worry about it too much; my oldest son has already found a wife and they're both 5. And both dead serious that they'll marry. I figure my boys will find their path one way or another and the best thing I can do is stay out of their way and cheer them on regardless.

Oh, I think about this stuff all the time. I ask myself this question almost every day. It can drive you crazy, really. Like how did Tiger Woods' dad know he'd be a golf phenom when he started teaching him to play at 3 years old? Or what if I'd gone into social work as a major in college, where would I be now? That kind of stuff. So then I just have to think (for myself), whatever has happened was *meant* to happen. And for my boy, as he gets older, to just expose him to a lot of different things until something really clicks for him. We're so lucky in this country to have so many opportunities....

I was encouraged to try different activities as a child. Ballet and Tap, Horse-back riding, drums, guitar and my favorite for several years, Piano. In Jr. High I discovered Chorus and that was it. I found what I loved, and my Mom supported me, but she also kept trying to push the Piano at me. I don't think she understood that I had found "the thing", the activity I most enjoyed.
I will give my Daughter and Son the sae chances. I will let them try whatever they wish. But, when they tore of something, or just wish to quit, I will talk with them, make sure they really want to stop, and then stand back and let them do their own thing. That's all we can do as parent's. Give a choice and many chances.

I think my father wanted a boy but he ended up with two girls. He put me and my sister into all sorts of sports activities. My sister excelled while I fell apart (literally) with injury after crazy mishap (broke my finger at softball tryouts, pulled a groin muscle while bowling on a team when I was nine!). He finally decided that my strengths were in public speaking and acting and before I knew what was happening he had enrolled me in speech electives at school and he drove me around town to local theater auditions. I'm not sure if those were things I would have picked on my own to love but his guidance and suggestions helped me become the outgoing person I am today.

I hope to expose my daughter to a variety of sports, art, music and other activities so she can choose her own path. I can't wait to see what it is that she loves and I hope to help her achieve her goals without getting in the way of them.

My parents did what MetroDad's did - anything and everything.

But, my mother also edited my activities on the basis of my demonstrated talents: so, ballet lesson mysteriously ended after a few years. School 'closed' or something. Years later, she told me that it was just so painfully obvious that dance was not my thing, so they put me out of my misery. Thing was, I loved it. Granted, it would have been weird to be the lone nine-year old in the beginner class full of fours and fives, but, but...

I keep meaning to blog about this, but I don't want to snark on my mom, who meant well... as we all do.

I like the approach that my mom applied for me and my brother. She just exposed us to absolutely everything and then stood back to see which interests we naturally gravitated towards.

Every day, it seemed we had a different extracurricular activity....tennis, piano, painting, language lessons, writing seminars, baseball, drawing, tae kwon do, etc.

I hope to return the favor by doing the same thing for the Peanut.

I've wondered this myself. When I was young, my parents wouldn't allow me to be in dance lessons and I've had the urge to take them now as an adult.

I started playing violin in fourth grade, and I liked it for awhile, but when I wanted to quit, my parents made me stick to it. I secretly quit in high school. I hated it.

Now I have this nagging feeling that I have to overcompensate my lacking, but getting Dawson involved with things. Or maybe I just want to prove to my parents that it's good to start kids in activities they like.

I dunno, it's a good question to ponder. Thanks for bring it up!

Well, my mom and I are like night and day. She took me on nature hikes and loved to garden when I was younger, and I can't stand any of it. So clearly her interests didn't rub off on me.

Anything activities I did as a kid were because I begged to be in them. Mom made me prove I'd stick with it before spending the money, but she let me be a Girl Scout, do gymnastics for a few years, etc. She got me a cheap electronic keyboard (two and a half octaves) one year, and I taught myself to play it without lessons. As a reward, my family got together and got me a piano so I could continue learning. I still have that piano.

I'll probably let my daughters guide me in what they want to do. And I guess I don't worry about forcing my interests on them, because if they don't like it, I know they won't stay with it.

As for myself, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Hell, I'm starting nursing school in the fall, when I already have a bachelors degree and work towards two masters degrees. But I figure I'll keep working towards my own interests and someday figure it all out.

Get out of my head, lady.

If you figure this out please let me know.

The post of my life.

My up-bringing was the perfect mix of sports and art and my mother was equally controlling of it as she was completely disconnected as she was super supportive. She drove me to all of my practices, came to every game, competition, show, and recital. And when I look back, I quit most all of my activities mainly because she started to take hold of them as hers. She never did anything--no sports, no art, nothing, not even interested in school and was a C/D student. And now, she's having this problem at 50--thinking, I don't do anything--craft, write, read, create, workout, cook, do anything except run her company and drink tea and smoke. And her mother is the biggest busy-body imaginable and is a lot like me in regards to art and ability, so she wasn't not encouraged as a child in this manner.

So I think I naturally picked up her "I don't do anything" vibe and wanted to try a little bit of everything to call my own before she took it away from me by making the glory, the excitement, the pride all her own. It was no longer her coming to see me figure skate, it was her wishing she was out there, both happy for me that I was doing it and angry at me that I have the skill, courage, and the drive to go out there and do double jumps on a thin blade.

So, in many ways parents guide their children, but I think that's all you are responsible for, the guiding--and your child seems to be the I'll take that opportunity and make it mine type of child, so I think she'll be able to discern her own pleasure with your guidance.

I am glad that my mother worked so hard to support me on her single mom budget to all me to take tap, ballet, viola, skating, modeling, and on and on because I would not be the person I am today.

But, I still resent her taking the glory away from me--perhaps I would still be a figure skater. But, aren't we always re-creating ourselves anyway?

I try to encourage my kids to try always try new things. But once they make a commitment to try something, they have to finish it until the end. Then we reevaluate. And if they don't wanna, they don't. I'm not wasting time or my money or my energy trying to force an activity on a child.

That may mean my kids aren't going to grow up to be Olympic medalists, but I'm okay with that.

I truly believe it all sorts itself out in the end. And everything happens for a reason.

That's my mantra I keep repeating as I hide in the closet with my mommy juice.

Oh tough.
I wasn't really passionate about anything as a kid and wimped out over ANYTHING I tried..and mom always let me wimp out instead of making me stick to things.

As it is I have always felt a little lost.

We just now try to expose the kids to different things and see what sticks.

Kristen -

what if you're supposed to be an innovative entrepreneur that brings moms together to discuss important and entertaining topics?

what if you're supposed to be a thoughtful and creative writer who leverages new technologies to communicate in ways people never could before?

what if you're supposed to be a person whose writing makes people laugh, cry, and think?

and what if right now your daughter is supposed to be a toddler who likes to dance and play?

you're still finding your own path and you always will -- so will your daughter.

You're FABULOUS and you should be proud of what you've accomplished and what your children will become because you love them enough to care so much.

This is a tough one. I wanted to do something - anything - over the summer when I was in elementary school. Sports, summer camp, whatever. We used to get the flyers in April for the summer rec activities (cheerleading, Girl Scouts, softball, baseball), and I remember really wanting to do cheerleading. I ended up with Girl Scouts, which sounded cool, but we didn't do anything.

I would say, give her options, let her choose. Try to get her to stick with things for a while, and judge for yourself whether she wants out because of some trivial thing or whether she just doesn't enjoy the activity. I would also say to give her at least one of each type of thing - an athletic activity (soccer is really good for little kids, I think - they're always moving), an arts activity (music, visual art, drama, dance, etc), and some kind of intellectual something (Girl Scouts might even fall into this category, as long as her troop leader doesn't suck. My problem is that I wanted to go camping or do community service, and all we ever did was read the handbook and get doughnuts.) You can't put her in everything, but you can give her a taste of each type of activity, and if she seems to enjoy something in particular, help her find her niche in that realm.

Maybe she'll be a basketball playing, theater-loving, nature girl... or a soccer hooligan violinist who competes in Quiz Bowl.

I think you're right - you don't want to force anything on her, and you don't want to deny her opportunities. The best thing to do is guide her, and try to figure out what decisions she's trying to make. Which will probably mean fighting your own stigmas or bad experiences with an activity in favor of leaving her open to do what she enjoys.

We allow our 4 year old to play soccer. Our rule is, you have to finish the season. I will probably make him try piano in a year or so, on the basis that he finishes a set number of lessons before making a decision. Also, to see if he has any sort of musical talent. (Half of my family does, while the other half has NONE) I like giving them the opportunity, but also not letting them quit when it's not so fun, or they aren't the best at something.

My mother was pushed into things by her mother. In turn, my mother pushed me into nothing. I have often wondered what else I could have done if I had known the opportunities that existed.

I want to present the opportunities, allow for interest to guide the choices made, and then teach follow through on the activities chosen.

I meant school-external lessons. Blah.

I think you will do the best you can do, and that's all any child can ask for.

I was passably good at playing the violin as a small child, but I was only in classes at all because the public school I attended offered them to gifted students. When I changed schools, I had no class and no school-provided violin. I begged my parents for classes for the next two years, but they always ignored me. (My mother had little money and time for such things anyway; father had money, and just didn't care).

In fact, my parents never offered me external lessons in ANYTHING. My parents never even taught me to swim, or to ride a bike.

Not doing the best they could do.

I think as long as you give your children the opportunity to educate themselves about things they enjoy, they will find a good path.

I think for my kids, I'll wait until they show interest in something before letting them get involved. I'll probably set limits, like you have to stick with it for this season, and then if you don't want to do it again, that's okay.

No matter what we do, our kids will always have what-if's. We can't prevent that, no matter how attentive we are.

Oh, boy, tough stuff! I never did anything as a child because we didn't have any money! I remember desperately wanting to do ice skating (because all the cool girls had badges on their winter jackets), but I was always told "next year" which never came. With my own daughter, now 6, she has done dance and gymnastics (at different times), and appears to have some athletic talent. My younger daughter is only 3, and I haven't gotten her involved in anything yet, but my mother's guilt is saying I need to give equal opportunity (though looking back my older daughter could have done without the dance at age 3). Money is definitely a limiting factor, but not quite as much as for my parents, apparently. Either that, or my priorities are different - hard to say. But the questions about what to encourage, and when, and when to allow a child to give up an activity are all great questions, with probably no one right answer. Ugh.

Great post! And hard to answer. Looking back, I didn't really have a passion as a child, which may be why my parents didn't get behind me on any certain activity. They didn't force anything on me but when I decided I wanted to try something, I always felt they were almost "whatever" about it. So did I not develop a passion because the two most important people in my life didn't do much to encourage outside activities...or is it just my nature? who knows?

On the opposite side, I feel pretty good about my 1st son's circle. He has always been strong-minded and knows his own passion, which is ocean life. He's six and been fascinated with it since 3. So no passing fancy for sure. We support & encourage his passion in lots of ways but still leave the door open to other interests too.

My youngest I'm not so sure. I think he is more like me. He hasn't fixated on one subject like his brother. So he is the one that I ponder how much steering do I do, how much do drifting do I allow, what areas should I encourage him in, etc?

Then I remind myself that theses little souls are on their own path too, just like me. While I can shape who they are, ultimately it is up to them who they become.

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