Over the last few weeks, my wife’s been pretty ill and has needed some major downtime to recover.
Thankfully she’s on the mend now physically, and her health is coming back to what it was before.
During this time, we’ve made some changes in our life that – since we’re parents – include changes in the lives of our kids as well.
Some have been easy, others less so.
Some had already been coming, though, so they were easier changes to make.
During the downtime we had for my wife’s recuperation, I spent a lot of time with our son and daughter (six and four respectively) and it made me realize that despite trying hard not to, I was starting to try and shape their growth.
Now, sure, this is normal for the most part.
After all, as a parent, you want what’s best for your kid and to try and raise good people in the process.
But then there are the times when, instead of wanting what’s best for them, perhaps you’re actually having them do something because it’s what’s “best for you”.
And that can be dangerous and unrewarding.
Kids Joy versus Parent’s Joy
When I was younger, I studied karate. It was a mix of traditional karate and street fighting, to try and ensure you were ready for all outcomes.
And I loved it.
Not only did it help me get fit, it built on the confidence I’d learned as a child as part of the army cadets.
It also helped me understand that we’re all the same, and none of us are better than the other.
So, when Ewan was five, we enrolled him in the local Tae Kwon Do class. And, for the first few months, he loved it.
He trained well, he listened, he practiced, and he was rewarded by achieving his orange belt.
If you do what you love, it is the best way to relax. ~ Christian Louboutin
Then he started to lose interest, especially after his favourite instructor went back to Korea.
He didn’t listen as much. He played around more. He forgot his drills (or simply didn’t take on board the moves involved).
And, as such, he started to get left behind by others that had joined at the same time.
This upset him. Not upset as in sad – more like frustrated. And this made him want to do less because he didn’t see himself progressing.
At first, I was annoyed. OK, not so much annoyed, more like frustrated.
I’d seen how well he’d done previously, and how that had dwindled away.
It was an expensive “hobby”, and that seemed to be going to waste, for want of a better word (we don’t see anything our kids want to try as a waste, but it’s a financial hit all the same).
And maybe, deep down, I was a little sad that he didn’t want to continue something that had given me so much.
At first, I didn’t recognize this last reason, but during my wife’s illness, it gave me more time to spend with our kids and see what truly matters to them.
And it was the kick in the pants I needed.
We Learn What We Love
Ewan loves soccer which, given I’m from the UK where soccer is king, gives me a huge smile.
He likes other, more North American-type sports too, but he really loves soccer.
And he’s good at it.
Before he finished for the school summer break, he’d play soccer with friends at school that were bigger and better, but he wouldn’t give up, and more often than not he’d win the ball from them.
He’s always playing with a ball around the house and loves to get outside and kick a ball around.
Sometimes he’ll practice himself, other times he’ll ask his little sister to play, or mummy and daddy.
When he saved enough money from chores he’d done around the house, he went straight to the shop and got an awesome pair of soccer shoes.
Simply put, he’s doing the thing he really loves and it shows.
And I should have seen it sooner.
[clickToTweet tweet=”It’s never too late to listen to your kids – but you need to want to listen. #family” quote=”It’s never too late to listen to your kids – but you need to want to listen. ” theme=”style4″]
The good thing is, it’s never too late to do so, as long as you take your blinkers off and really look.
I loved the fact that Ewan was initially enjoying Tae Kwon Do, as martial arts is something I love. And that made me biased, and could have resulted in me continuing to make my son do something he wasn’t really enjoying any more.
Now, I know better.
Enjoy the Time for What It Is
Our kids are both young. They have many years of likes and dislikes, fun stuff and not-so-fun stuff ahead of them.
But it’s their choice as to how they find out.
Sure, my wife and I can sign them up for programs and summer activities, etc., and see what sticks. But at the end of the day, the decision will naturally come from the kids.
Because they feel what’s fun and enjoyable. They feel what helps them progress. And, most importantly of all, they feel what truly makes them happy.
Which, at the end of the day, is all you ever want as a parent.
So. Lesson learned.
Enjoy the time for what it is. Enjoy the choices your kids make. And enjoy the fun that ensues because of that.
Because at the end of the day, it’s called “growing as a family” for a reason.
Here’s to what lies ahead.