Like many Mums and Dads our week consists of driving our children to numerous after school clubs and activities. My parents did it for me and I see it as my duty as a parent to let my kids try as many activities as they can while they are young. How do they know if they are likely to be the next David Beckham or Darcey Bussell if they haven’t had the opportunity to experience the things they want to do? Archie has been exposed to music from a very young age and, for the most part, has loved it! Phoebe loves her dancing and at 5 years old goes to 4 classes a week. Right now she does it for fun and is taking some exams which she wants to do and I am enjoying that she is a really girlie girl! Archie has also done gymnastics, dance and basketball and now plays football too and belongs to the scouts. It takes a lot of commitment from both child and parent to give them the time and the encouragement to follow their dreams and there are times, certainly with Archie, where we’ve all wondered if it was worth it. So my question is…at what point does a nurturing, loving parent that wants the best for their child become a pushy parent?
I read a comment on social media recently about a young 12 year old girl that had made it through to the Britain’s Got Talent Final. She was a lovely well mannered girl with a beautiful voice and her parents seemed normal and encouraging and devoted to her achieving her dreams. Someone had left the simple comment ‘She has a beautiful voice but I wish parents wouldn’t push their kids’. It really struck a chord with me…at what point did they see a pushy parent? Do people see that in me? I have seen pushy parents many times in my life and they are generally the ones that are living through their children forcing them into activities that they don’t necessarily enjoy just for their own gratification. So when did encouraging, motivating and caring become pushy? I will admit there were times when Archie said he didn’t want to play his violin anymore and I wouldn’t let him stop. We discussed the reasons – the fact that he would be giving up something he was actually really good at, the wasted years of practice and lessons and the fact the he would probably regret it in the future. We found a middle ground and having discussed his doubts with his fantastic teacher she changed direction and moved away from exams and ‘grown-up’ music and for 6 months he played nothing but Disney! He learnt to love playing again and we never again had the discussion about wanting to give up. He’s now talking about having music as his career so what if I’d just let him quit, hadn’t worked through the tough times and just given up?
I think there is a fine line between making your children carry on with activities they don’t enjoy anymore and allowing them to just quit whenever they get bored with something. As a parent it is my job to teach them that you can’t just quit when things get tough or when you get bored but that if you stick at things then they can often be more enjoyable and worthwhile. Archie has given up his gymnastics – I would have loved him to continue but even I could see after persevering for several months he just wasn’t giving it his all and the time had come to move on to something new. I have joked with friends about being a pushy mum but I really think I am just inspired by their hard work and determination and want to encourage that in them and help them see that when they work hard at something they can really succeed.
I played the violin from the age of 6 to 16. From about 11 years old I hated it, I had a new teacher that I didn’t click with and was at a school where I was really a very average player among a lot of incredible musicians. At 16 I simply stopped going to my lessons and eventually my Mum agreed it was time to stop. However, as much as I hated it then I am now so glad I learnt and got to a decent standard. I have been able to help Archie with his practice and have often played with him which was great fun…he’s a lot better than me now! So I will continue to encourage my children in their chosen activities and if people think that’s ‘pushy’ well so be it…all I want is for them to be happy and, when they are at a point where they are choosing a career, to know that we gave them all they needed to get there.