Random Mom Question…

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I don’t want to become one of those moms. You know the type: the kind that micromanage their kids’ schedules and make them be involved in every activity under the moon? I do want my kids to pursue their talents and their passions, but….

1) What if they are truly talented in one area but lack desire? Should I encourage them to “carry on” even though it may not tickle their fancy? Chuck it up as a lesson in self-discipline? Would we be wasting God-given talent by not pursuing it?

2) Interests wax and wane. I recently discovered an old scrapbook from my senior year in which I declared my intentions to become a speech therapist or an interpreter for the deaf. I have absolute zero recollection of ever wanting to be a speech therapist or even knowing what one was (ironically, my middle sister became a speech therapist)! “Passions”–or better yet, “interests”–aren’t the most reliable thing on which we can base decisions. Is the better way to provide a child with opportunities to have different types of experiences so that one day, she might develop a passion?

This parenting stuff…I think I’ll get it perfected in about eighty years or so.

What’s your philosophy on extracurricular activities?

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11 Responses to Random Mom Question…

  1. heather joy says:

    I’m not a mom, but I HAVE a mom (obviously), and I just have a quick testimony in regards to your first question.

    My mom got me started on learning how to play the piano when I was 3 years old. She made me practice every day – sitting next to the piano, breathing over my shoulder, she would watch me for 45 minutes each day at a set time. If I didn’t get a song right, she’d make me play it again and again and again until I got it right. When I was 4 years old, I started taking lessons from a professional teacher. Oh, did I mention that I hated it? No… well, I did.

    My older brother also took lessons… and he hated it as well. Eventually I passed him up in performance level, and he decided to quit taking piano lessons because of “work.” Meanwhile, I tried to quit as well… except mom wouldn’t let me. And I hated that she wouldn’t let me quit. I fought tooth and nail when it came to practicing and going to my weekly lesson.

    Fast forward to 20 years later. I am now the pianist for my church and I accompany many traveling groups who come through my church or sing for our special meetins… AND it is a blessing. I love it!

    I’m so thankful my mom didn’t let me quit when I wanted to. The Lord has blessed me with a talent that I can use to serve Him, and ultimately bring glory and honor to His Name.

    • Megan says:

      That’s EXACTLY my dilemma. My eldest daughter has natural music talent (meaning, she can skip a week of practice and still impress her music teacher), but she has zero desire. I took piano as a child and, like you, HATED it. The difference between my daughter and I is even though I hated lessons, I still played around on the piano when I was bored. My daughter never seems bored enough to do this–LOL. I took for 6 years and don’t play at all now, but I do know how to read music. I can’t decide if it’s worth the effort on my part to force her to do something that she may or may not ever use (I feel that she already has a good foundation for reading music)..especially since it can be very painful (and headache-inducing) to be the practice “enforcer!” 🙂

      • Jill Foley says:

        As a music teacher (violin) I can honestly say I’ve only met a handful of people that are truly glad they quit their music lessons. Most, are so thankful their parents wouldn’t let them – me included!

        My girls both play violin and I’m their teacher – this makes for some unpleasant times in our daily routine. Yesterday my eldest began saying she wanted to move to a different family where they don’t play violin! Anyway, we had a little discussion about how learning music is something we do in our family…we won’t always like it, but we will always do it (I likened it to laundry and cooking).

        That being said….I have also met a handful of kids who just are not cut out for music lessons. I have actually counseled some to quit.

        There is nothing fun about the daily monotony of something and I think that’s probably what your daughter is struggling with. If all musicians were allowed to quit when they wanted to, there would be no musicians in our world. Routine is very important in getting the practicing done. For us, we practice right after breakfast – we play violin music during breakfast to get us in the right mindset….

  2. You know I have these same questions too. Before I had kids, I said I wouldn’t push my kid to do something he had no interest in, but now I totally question that reasoning. I think I should push my kids in some areas. I keep going back and forth with this one, not knowing what’s right. I’m coming back to see other parent’s advice. I’ve got none. Sorry.

    • Megan says:

      Aw man….I thought I could count on the Domestic Fringe for answers to all of life’s most complex parenting problems. Bummer! 😉 I guess my dilemma is self-discipline: I want them to have some and that means doing things we don’t always WANT to, but will benefit us in the long-term. Example: I don’t LIKE to exercise and I don’t WANT to exercise, but it is most beneficial for me in the long term if I exercise regularly.

  3. Jessica says:

    I’m not a fan of forcing kids to finish or pursue and interest in the name of “stick-to-it-iveness”. Noe one forces us to keep reading that book we get tired of, or whatever. 🙂

    • Megan says:

      I do understand that reasoning somewhat, but on the other hand….I look at my generation who has no “stick-with-itness” whatsoever. We change jobs and houses and marriage partners like we change our underwear. When we get bored or disinterested, we just quit. I hate that about us. I want my kids to understand that there’s more to life than just always doing what you want (see comment above). Make sense?

  4. Beverly says:

    I don’t think there are many children that LOVE music lessons, but I do agree that it is good for them to be involved in SOMETHING. The nitty-gritty question is: Is this a battle you are ready to fight? ‘cuz you know it ain’t gonna be pretty : )
    The next question: is there another instrument that she would enjoy playing or another hobby that involves music? Just putting in my 2 cents. I bet you already know what to do…you’re pretty smart like that.

  5. Sarah Brewer says:

    There’s definitely a balance there. Speaking as someone who is NOT a parent, I think maybe the challenge as a parent is to help your kid discover a passion by “encouraging” them to try different things (very few people, let alone kids, have the drive or desire to try something new, it’s scary) and to stick with them long enough to discover hidden skills or passions (again, learning is scary). But it’s also important to consider the personality of your own kids, there’s no one size fits all method here.

    That said, here’s my big concern with encouraging kids to get involved and develop skills and talents:
    At the heart of all this you have to remember (and I’m sure you do) that things like character. virtue, and values are exponentially more important than specific skills. Honestly it really doesn’t matter if your child full taps her talents if she doesn’t learn to be selfless, kind, confident, etc.

    There are plenty who think that these are things that you naturally learn through different activities (team-work, discipline, etc) but I’m not sure this is the case. Even if it is, I just wonder if you really want a teacher or coach to be the one modeling and teaching values to your kid? I know plenty of teenagers that spend so much time in school and extra curricular activities (sometimes 12 hours a day, 5 days a week!) that they have virtually no time to even build relationships with their family or church community let alone to learn values from them. I can’t help but wonder if the time, energy, and money spent on sports camps, lessons, and other activities wouldn’t be better spent on core values as a family or community.

    Sorry I got on a bit of a soap box there, but as a recovering overachiever and someone who constantly sees 14-18 year olds who are maxed out with extra-curriculars, I have some concerns about “encouraging” our kids to do too much.

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