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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Yesterday, Kathy’s guest post described the behavior of parents who have ambitions for their children. According to Kathy, “The problem with most parents today is that they tend to force on their children ambitions that were once upon a time theirs, ambitions that went unachieved for lack of support, motivation and/or the lack of opportunity.”

My disagreement revolves around two areas: 1) that most parents act this way and 2) the suggestion that pushing is only a selfish act, harmful to the child.

I’m 40 years old, and in all those years I can only recall to mind one parent ever who was pushing their child harder than necessary. Perhaps it’s the area in which I live, or perhaps I had blinders on growing up but I just didn’t encounter that kind of parent with any frequency. And now that I am a parent comparing notes with other moms and dads, I don’t know anyone who acts this way.

Is this any kind of scientific or definitive evidence? Nope. But it leads me to have some confidence in the hope that most parents want the very best, and they follow that up by doing their very best for their kids.

As for the idea that pushing is always selfish and bad. With that I disagree more concretely. Kids who are busy don’t have time to get into trouble. A child that is involved in sports, youth activities, and classes is learning skills (and physically improving his/her brain) that can be helpful in multiple ways. For starters, there’s more time in youth to try new things. Second, experimenting with different activities helps the child determine what they do and do not enjoy. This leads to more solid career choices as well as developing hobby interests.

It is absolutely positive to overdo and overschedule a child. I’m not advocating that at all. But on the other side of the spectrum, it’s not wise to let your child stay home and become a lump of spineless jello on the couch.

Parenting is a delicate balancing act. It’s not easy to determine how hard to push without going too far. While children can have a decent sense of what’s good for them in life, they don’t have the benefit of the years of wisdom and experience their parents enjoy. And ultimately, it’s the parent’s job to make those decisions. They should get kids involved in life; at the same time they should put limits on things to protect everyone’s health and well-being.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who know they need to be a little pushy.

Image courtesy of ttarasiuk via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.