I competed throughout elementary school, middle school, and some of high school, and I always loved the sport, until I found myself doing it for reasons other than my own enjoyment. All true competitors know this: once you start competing and taking the sport a little more seriously, going to the swimming pool “just for fun” becomes a thing of the past. Innocent games of Marco Polo, and silly things, like seeing who can do headstands underwater the longest are soon trumped by a parent asking for “just a few laps” before leaving, or a coach saying well the kid’s in the water already so let’s see how that stroke is coming along.
You see where I’m going here?
I like to know what my son is growing toward. I like to know what makes him feel good, in an achieving, productive, growing-into-himself kind of way that I hope, in turn, will help him to grow into a disciplined, well-learned young person. I like having joy in the things I do, so I think it is only fair my son gets to feel the same way.
So, how do you help your kids discover their “thing” and love it, instead of making them take part in your thing and only pretending to like it to appease you?
1) Listen to your kids. Don’t just smile and nod. Talk to your children. Listen. Ask questions. How was your day? What was your favorite part of your day? Why? It’s amazing what you can learn in a half-hour conversation with a little person.
2) Be willing to allow your little people to do something out of your comfort zone. It is easy to say “no” to something that is not a personal preference for you when your kids are looking to try a new activity. Beware of this. You may be paying for it, but isn’t your money better spent on something your kids can grow to really be passionate about?
3) Know when enough is enough. If you ever find yourself more excited to drop your children off to an activity than they are to go, it may be time to take a break. If this happens repeatedly, it may be time to try something new.
What you love is what you love, and it may not be what your child loves. Embrace it. It is okay.
Marlena Rice is a busy mom and writer who lives in Tuscaloosa with her husband, Rod, and their son, Beaux William. Check out her blog at heartfullybuilt.com.