Thursday, July 5, 2012

what a relief

I read an article in The New Yorker this week called "Spoiled Rotten: Why do kids rule the roost". Before I continue I want to say that I realize how pretentious that sounds. If it makes you feel better, I have The New Yorker on facebook. I am a very low-brow New Yorker reader.

Anyway, the article explains that (North) American parents try to do so much for their kids that it renders them (the kids that is) incapable of being independent. It was a good read, but the reason I want to share it with you is because of a single sentence. The author of the article interviewed a psychologist who specializes in treating young adults. Here is what she had to say, "Never before have parents been so (mistakenly) convinced that their every move has a ripple effect into their child’s future success". 

Don't re-read what you just read. I meant what I said. I love that sentence. It makes me feel so much better.

Let me explain. Though I am sure on some level I am convinced that my parenting decisions are correlated with Violet's future success I am way more worried about the opposite. I worry continuously (at least continually)  about every parenting misstep I make and how it will negatively affect Violet. 

Take soccer for example. Violet hates it. I obviously don't let her say hate, but it is written all over her face. She cries, she goes boneless, she buries her head in my legs. She told Jeff and I that all the grown ups make her nervous and that she loves soccer in our yard, but she doesn't want to be on her team anymore. My heart tells me we should wait until next year. I don't think she is ready to play a team sport and there is probably little to be gained by torturing her, not to mention Jeff and I, on a weekly basis. But then doubt creeps into my head. If we stop going to soccer are we teaching Violet to be a quitter? Will we be saying to her, "when the going gets tough, just head home"? I don't want to teach her that, but I also don't want her to feel like she has to pretend to like something to make other people, especially her parents, happy. 

Having read the sentence I quoted above I actually feel a little bit better about the whole force Violet to do something she clearly hates vs. teaching her to be a quitter conundrum: it may not matter what we choose. We aren't that important. 

What a relief! 

Violet's future happiness is likely not contingent on our making the right decision about under four soccer. In fact, even if we made the right decision it may not have the desired effect. If I am completely honest I'm not even sure I know what the desired effect is. 

Who knows what we will do about soccer, but at least now I feel a little less pressure. If we let Violet quit soccer she isn't destined to be a beauty school drop out, and if we make her stick with it she may not graduate summa cum laude. Parents are super important, no doubt about it, but thankfully "our every move [doesn't have] a ripple effect into [our] child's future success". Life isn't that straightforward and this time I am grateful for that.



ps -- the hilarious (but only very tangentially related to the content of this post) comic you see above can be found here:

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