On our way to my daughter’s hockey practice, my 12 year old son boldly states that he is going to take a year of ‘self-exploration’ after high school, instead of heading straight to college.
My heart starts pounding and my vision becomes blurry. I think to myself, is this what it’s like before you pass out? Pull yourself together, woman…you are driving!
I took a deep breath and made sure I heard him correctly, “What did you say?”
He slowly repeats his statement with a distinct pause in between his words to ensure I was fully aware of his annoyance. Now my blood is boiling, “Um, no…YOU, my son, are NOT taking a year off after high school. YOU are getting a scholarship, playing your favorite sport, and most definitely going to college IMMEDIATELY following high school.”
My head is spinning. Did that really just happen? Is my 7th grader stressing about college and what he is going to do in his adult years, or am I the one stressing? Do I place too much pressure on him? Are my expectations too high? Of course, the answer to these questions is not simple. At times, I do feel like my expectations are too high. He’s only 12. We rush from this to that, and that to this, and before I know it he’s going to be driving and getting his first job with real responsibilities!
All I want is to raise well-rounded, happy human beings that will make a positive contribution to society.
I’m not alone in my concern for my kids. We all want them to grow up happy, healthy, and successful. I know I can’t always protect him, and I can’t make decisions for him, but I want to do everything in my power to set him up for success.
How do you know if you are helping them, or pushing too hard?
First, when it comes to sports and extracurricular activities, ask yourself: is this for you, or your child?
Did they ask to participate or did you have to convince them? Do they complain about it constantly, and is it affecting their overall mood? Reevaluate your schedules and stress levels every once in a while. Let them be a kid and allow for “free” time.
Second, give them a chance to share their thoughts.
Are the lines of communication open? Are you approachable? Do you make time for one on one conversations? Are you asking questions other than “How was school today? When is your science fair project due again?” Do you listen when they ask questions? Make your home a safe place to express their emotions. Find ways to reach them. They are more likely to open up and engage in conversation when there is less pressure and they can relax.
Third, support them no matter what.
Be their biggest fan! You are their number one cheerleader. Let them know you love them unconditionally. Offer positive encouragement. They are receiving plenty of instruction and criticism from their teachers and coaches.
I don’t always succeed at being a laid back mom, but I strive to be understanding and supportive by taking the time to listen, providing positive encouragement, and most of all, being available when he does need me.
As for that year off? Maybe he can convince me when the time comes.
What are some important ways you support your kids? Share them with us!