By a classified staff mom of a daughter (8), a son (6) and a daughter (3):
My 8 and 6 year old are starting to participate in activities. Activities as in: ballet, baseball, basketball, swimming lessons, piano lessons and the list goes on. I do try and limit them to one activity per season/term. Sometimes there is overlap that happens, particularly for my daughter who has been participating in ballet that goes all school year long. I am always challenged with trying to keep myself sane in getting them to their activities, but also providing them with many opportunities.
I will start by saying that, I don’t really care if my kids are ever “standouts” in any one particular activity, but what I do hope is that they have opportunities. Opportunities to be a “standout”. Opportunities to be good at many activities. Opportunities to be good at one activity. Opportunities to learn, grow, change, practice, feel success and defeat, enjoy, love, dislike. Opportunities to experience. I do enjoy watching my kids participate in activities and love cheering them on. It is rewarding for me as a mom, to see them be successful (or hopefully at least try their best) at the activities they participate in whether it comes natural or they have to practice and work at it.
One of the challenges along the way has been commitment (my word) or following through (the kid word). They choose to participate in an activity, but then for various reasons, don’t want to participate any more. This happens after I have already paid for the activity and they have started participating. As I said before, I don’t really care if they are “standouts” or good at many activities, but I do feel it is my obligation to teach them to be committed…to follow through. If you sign up for an activity then you follow through with the activity for the duration of time that it lasts, typically one season. If you never want to participate again, that is fine. At least you tried it and followed through. Then I begin to wonder though…am I pushing them away from that activity forever, because I made them finish what they started and what they said they wanted to participate in? (I never sign them up for an activity unless they say they want to participate in the first place.) Will my daughter ever try basketball again after I continued to take her to practice and games when she didn’t want to go? I never made her play in a game, but I told her that she was part of the team and that she had to at least go and watch her teammates and cheer them on. She was not even thrilled about that. Or will she never participate, because she doesn’t think she is good at it? Or maybe she just doesn’t like it? I don’t really know. I guess time will tell. A similar situation happened with my son and swimming lessons. And now it is piano lessons and my daughter. (She apparently didn’t realize there would be “homework”.) J
For me it is a challenging dilemma. I want them to learn about commitment and following through. I don’t want them to think that they can just sign up for activities and then quit whenever they want…whether they don’t like it or they think it is too hard or they think they aren’t good enough or whatever the case may be. On the other hand, I don’t want them to dislike something just because their mom made them continue to participate at some level when they didn’t want to at all. I can just hear my daughter in middle school…”I don’t play basketball, because my mom forced me to play in 1st grade. She made me go to all the practices and games, even though I didn’t want to. Now I don’t like basketball at all.” I struggle with knowing what I should do. Which way is the best? Will there be long term affects either way? Or will it matter at all in the long term?