When Push Comes to Shove: Finding a Balance

A  lot of parents will do anything for their kids, except let them be themselves.”  – Banksy

Cathy Thorne cartoon

Thanks Cathy Thorne for the great cartoon!

Okay, I’ve done a lot of personal work in this area. And yet, go figure, it keeps showing up… A couple of weeks ago, the juggling of summer camp sign-up began. Where you have to have every camp planned for the entire summer, then wake up at the crack of dawn, have all of your information ready, and just hope that you’re one of the lucky ones to get what your child wants. Or is it really what they want?  A question that you cannot pause to consider, as you are madly hitting the login button on the computer, hoping to finally get on to the sign-up page. Just in case, I put him on the wait list for music camp…

I have somewhat accepted the fact that my son is not interested in music. I put away the –who am I kidding, MY- Suzuki music-training dream a couple of years ago. He just was not interested and I decided to let it be. Although, not fully… when time came around for finding summer camps this year, of course I tried again for music. And, once again, to no avail. Fine. No problem.

Here’s the tricky part. There’s a lot of great things out there besides music, and we are fortunate to have the means to send him to at least a few interesting, creative camps. I am very well-intentioned, and want to give him exposure to lots of great things, and of course, to have a really fun summer. However, when I put forward some of the really great opportunities, they get met with either a “no,” or “which friend is going?”  I am all for coordinating summer camps and activities with friends. It’s just not always possible, and it is in such situations that my struggle lies.

Do I let it go? Do I sign him up anyway, and then push him to go when the time comes?  Last year he went to a different camp without friends and ended up loving it. How do we push and encourage our children without shoving our agenda onto them? This is something that I guess I’ll continue to learn through trial and error. For this year, we’ve decided that it’s just not worth the potential struggle. After all, it is summer vacation!

And my partner often reminds me, he is only five. This parenting thing is a lifelong project. Slowing down and reflecting on this comment helps me to stay connected to one of the key values I hope to strive for as a parent – to not get in the way of my children truly being themselves. Struggles and all…