Is there such thing as a pushy parent?

As a parent it goes without saying that I want the best for my children but when it comes to some situations it can be hard to know when encouraging your child to do well academically and socially can be a challenge.  I want them to have opportunities I didn’t have and I want them to find things they enjoy doing be it musically, sporty or otherwise.

We’ve all seen those parents that literally seem to drag their child kicking and screaming to all the after school activities available and stand shouting at them to kick the ball or trying to get them to join in.  We would refer to them as Pushy Parents and  When I had my eldest it was something I would cringe and say to dad of 3 I don’t want to be like that when our children are old enough to join in activities. 

Eleven years later and another three children I am beginning to look at the idea of being a Pushy Parent differently.  All three boys now attend various after school activities throughout the week and quite frankly they have better social lives than I do at time and I feel more like a taxi service than anything else.  Juggling work, house work and running the boys to their activities is a full-time job in its self.  I am mindful that they also need time out, time to relax and do as they want too. 

I have never taken the boys to an activity they have not wanted to attend.  In fact both dad of 3 and I have waited for the boys to take an interest in something before taking them along to try it out.  Then once they have decided it is something they would like to do we have encouraged and supported them where ever possible.   All three boys are working their way through the Scouting movement and this is something that initially Luc asked to go to Beavers and throughly enjoyed it.  Then Trystan wanted to go when he was old enough and now Rowan has joined.  Granted it helped that I moved through the Guiding as a child, it’s something I loved and gained so much out of it so I know that being part of this great movement brings so many opportunities and opens many doors for those within it.   I can see that when Erin is old enough she too will be joining as she hates leaving her brothers when she comes to drop them off at their weekly meetings. 

Then the boys have all gone to football and rugby training with the local teams at one time or another.  We had a break from this last year though but now this season Rowan and Trystan are back playing Rugby.  Now I don’t pretend to understand everything about Rugby but I do try to encourage them and dad of 3 takes them to training, he played as a teenager and so knows more about the sport

Then Luc had piano lessons for several years before deciding he didn’t want to take any exams.  We tried to push the issue by explaining it would be a good skill to have but ultimately with starting secondary school it was just too much.  He also used to have violin lessons in Primary school but got fed up with missing the same lesson every week and decided to stop two years ago.  So imagine my surprise when he came home from school this week with a violin!  He apparently has decided he wants to try again.  In fact Trystan also started to have Violin lessons in school but gave up last year when again he was missing the same lesson each week.  This term has seen Rowan starting to learn the violin in school!  So I’m back to two of the boys learning the violin in school and Trystan has taken over Luc’s piano lesson. 

I do think that in our case the younger boys have wanted to try an activity their older siblings have tried.  Yes there’s nothing wrong with that and it often works out well as they know what they are getting themselves into before they start.  Back before the summer holidays the older two asked if they could try sailing.  So I found out about the youth section with our local boat club and we went along.  The boys thoroughly enjoyed their first session and wanted to know when they could go again as soon as they were out of the water.   They have continued to enjoy attending and learning to sail. 

There are times however when the boys dig their heels in and don’t want to go to a session.  Usually it’s because they want to sit in front of the Playstation or just can’t be bothered.  It’s a difficult one to tackle because I know that once at which ever activity it is they will enjoy themselves and be glad they went.  But getting them there can become a challenge.  I’m not ashamed to say I’ve resulted to bribery, i.e extra time on the Playstation or extra pocket money to help motivate them to go.

This is where dad of 3 and I differ in our opinions.  Dad of 3 feels we shouldn’t push them to go and if they say they don’t want to go then let them have a session out as they will end up resenting us for making them go.  However I feel that we should be encouraging them to go regardless.  It’s a point of contention between us.  We all have days when we don’t want to do something like go to work but we have to go.  I don’t want my children turning round when their older and telling me they wished I had encouraged them to go to that activity after all.   I don’t have an issue if they actually want to give up an activity but I’m taking when you know they just can’t be bothered.  There’s nothing wrong with missing the odd session from time to time but to me when you start an activity especially when it’s a team sport then you make a committment to that activity.

This morning I was up early to take the older two to their first regatta, Luc was really looking forward to it and so was Trystan.  Both had their kit ready last night and although Trystan had a little wobble both were excited to be going.  However this morning when it came to getting them up, Trystan dug his heels in and refused to get up.  I tried the softly softy approach to start with reassuring him that he would enjoy and he would be okay.  But he point-blank refused and after several more attempts we left without him.  I felt so frustrated because once there I knew he would enjoy himself.  He’s been asking for weeks when the next sailing session was being held.  To be honest I personally would have loved to have stayed in bed myself this morning as I had spent yesterday helping at a Beaver Fun day so had an early start.  But it isn’t about me that I do these things, I do it for my children to support them in everything they do. 

So why do I feel frustrated and let down by Trystan’s refusal to go this morning?  Have I become one of those parent’s I thought was being pushy?  or am I simply trying to encourage my children?  I’m not sure there really is such thing as a pushy parent.  In fact I don’t think we should be judging others based on something we see for a minute or two.  As parent’s we all want our children to be happy and fulfil their full potential whatever that maybe. 

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