My friend and I were talking the other day, and something she said caught my attention. She said, "I don't believe in pressuring my kids into doing anything."
This seems like a modern trend in parenting -- allowing children to make their own choices activity by activity. according to how they feel.
Of course, it's important to allow a child to choose which activities he or she would like to be involved in when signing up for the classes, or agreeing to go to a certain playdate. But after the agreement has been made, there is something to be said about showing up.
It's about being committed, about being a team player, about doing what you say you are going to do.
My friend organized a soccer club because her child was so excited about continuing playing soccer. After a few soccer games, her child decided she was not interested in continuing, so was allowed to stay home instead. I have observed that this child has a hard time sticking to any task or activity, quickly switching to another when she gets bored.
Could this type of parenting be linked to adult behavior of non-committal relationships with loved ones, work, and oneself?
- How often do we see adults getting divorced because they "fall out of love", or things got too tough? How many children grow up without a dad active in their lives?
- How many people do you know who have difficulty getting to work on time, or call in sick plenty of times, or float from job to job?
- How many friends do you know who cannot stick to a goal plan for themselves, who switch from diet plan to diet plan, or continually cancel appointments?
There can be many reasons for these behaviors above, but one thing is clear -- commitment doesn't appear at the wedding altar, or at the beginning of any of life's experiences.
Perhaps there is something us as parents can do. Once your child decides to do an activity, teach the child to follow through. There may be times the child simply does not want to participate, but go anyway, and have the child sit and watch. The important thing is to show up.
When attending that ballet class or basketball team, your child isn't just learning to do a plie or dribble a basketball, he or she is learning commitment, and that is something that can stick with him or her through adulthood.