July 10, 2012

Not Those Parents

I admire the heck out of my daughter but she constantly forces me to defend my parenting skills.

Mia is stubborn. When she wants to do something, she does it. When Mia was three and she woke up every Saturday morning hearing the swim team competing at the pool down the street she wanted nothing more than to do it. She dragged us to the pool every day until she could swim, then tried out for the team - this short, stubborn four year old with hair like a mermaid - and smoked everyone in her age group. When she saw a friend in a musical, she wanted nothing more than to do it. Not only did she convince us that she should audition for their next production but drafted Beth to audition with her. She won the most pivotal role in the production, nailed it every night, and when I asked her after the first night if she was nervous she said why would I have been? like stagefright was a completely alien concept.

Whenever I tell people these things - that she's an awesome swimmer who has won more than her fair share of blue ribbons and that she's now performing in her second stage production - I feel like I'm instantly forced to defend myself. But we're not those parents...really!

Really. We're not. My kids need to try stuff. They need to be adventurous. They need to experience the world and find out what they want to do and what they never want to do again. You have to push, as parents, but you can't push too much. By the same token, it's our job as parents to allow our kids to try all those new things but our duty to make sure they don't overextend themselves. Simply, its our job to them find the middle ground between complacence and overscheduled.

My daughter is perhaps the most determined person I've ever met. She shows no regard for what should be the limitations of a kid her age and measures herself not against what her friends are able to do but what she thinks she should be able to do. When she looks in the mirror she sees not a 46 inch tall kid but a giant capable of almost anything. And she's determined to make the rest of the world see her that way too.

So, really, I'm cool with defending my parenting skills so long as they allow her to become the giant she wants to be.

Posted by Chris at July 10, 2012 7:00 AM

I understand completely. Not only do we have to deal with the defending our parenting style because our kids have both achieved some pretty cool stuff, but then you layer on homeschooling and people are convinced that my daughter is a national champion in horse judging because we force her to study 5 hours a day.

It's the spelling bee champion stereotype...

Trust me, if I was going to force my kids to be high achievers at something, I'd have picked something more financially rewarding than history and horse judging!

Posted by: COD at July 10, 2012 8:52 AM

You guys rock! The Cactus Family is inspiring! Don't think otherwise....

Posted by: Niki at July 10, 2012 9:16 AM

I will say seeing first hand - you're not those parents. You're not. And as for stage fright, I don't have it, either. :)

Posted by: alektra at July 10, 2012 9:27 AM

She sounds like an amazing kid!

Posted by: Heather at July 10, 2012 9:31 AM

Simply put.. . Mia AND Own are lucky to have you and Beth as their parents. Too many kids grow up in environments where the parents either (a) ignore them (b) force involvement in activites that THE PARENTS are interested in but they kids really don't care about or (c) allow the kids to take part in things that interest them but provide little if any parental support/involvement.
I think it's awesome that Mia is a determined litle girl who works towards her goals. It's a great trait to have and I'm sure will continue to serve her well. On the flip side I know it can be a challenge sometimes to parent such a child. How lucky you both are to be on the journey of life together! : )

Posted by: Mutt at July 10, 2012 9:32 AM

My youngest, as soon as she could talk, used the phrase "Don't tell me NO!" so often that it became a popular phrase in our family to this day. She's 18 now and wonderfully independent!

Posted by: James Proffitt at July 10, 2012 2:08 PM

well said. your girl is rad.

Posted by: kati at July 10, 2012 10:41 PM