May 202014

Bounce (Photo credit: JanetR3)


“Mom, LOOK!” shrieks the bouncing fourth-grader, waving a flier under your nose.  “It’s time to sign up for _________.” (circus camp, music lessons, archery)

A parental ‘deer in the deadlights moment,’ for sure.  How do you balance an already over-packed schedule, a child’s enthusiasm and time at home? After all, until we get used to it, any new activity takes up a lot of space.

Children think about new uniforms and teammates. Parents wonder about sign-ups, physicals, practice schedules, transportation, equipment, fund-raising, banquets and whatever else will be asked.  And, while most of us would like our kids to have a wide range of experiences, it’s not always possible to enroll them in everything that appeals to them.

What happens when you do give in to a child’s begging only to discover that he doesn’t like it as much as he thought he would?  Or, that she doesn’t really have a knack for it? And, now that you’ve got the ‘support structure’ in place, they want to quit the team? What’s a parent to do when they find that a child is floundering in a new activity?

It’s can be a tough call.  Before they leave a troublesome or difficult activity behind, is there something that they can learn that will help them to do better the next time?  Is there potential benefit in participating without being a ‘star’?

Sometimes the real trophy is the character-building that comes with warming a bench and leading the cheers.  The opportunity to learn to maintain a positive attitude when they’re rather be doing something else may be well-worth all the carpools, extra laundry and snack schedules combined.



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Apr 182013

English: A typical cheap basketball with a rub...


A successful businessman questioned the choices he’d made when his children were really young.  Like so many people striving to build careers and provide for their families, he wondered if he’d been home enough.  Especially when his marriage ended.

“Something surprising happened when my 17-year-old son came to live with me: we got very close and talked a lot.  He had played Little League baseball, and, in his junior year added basketball.  But he told me the only reason he’d played basketball was to make me happy.  It just floored me: I thought he liked it.  But he said it was because I told him that he had to do things and get involved and be successful.  When he said it, it hurt a little bit and felt good at the same time.”

How do we support our kids without pressuring them to do things solely to please us?  Especially now that research tells us that complimenting kids on effort and accomplishment (v. how they “are”) works better for many of them. What is best way to communicate our expectations for behavior and our unconditional love?…. to let them know we love them just because.

Dec 282012
little girl playing dress-up

Let’s celebrate their perfect 8-year-oldness

A few days ago an online friend (Melissa, owner of Pigtail Pals) posted a link about a mom who, to help her 8-year-old daughter “be perfect,” win pageants and “become a big star,” is reported to have repeatedly injected the child with Botox. Melissa challenged her readers to say something loving and compassionate to the Mom. It took me a while but here’s my attempt.

Dear Mother-who-injects-your-daughter-with-Botox,

I don’t agree with what you’re doing, but I choose to believe that you want what’s best for your child.  In that spirit, I have a few thoughts to share.

Even though your daughter may be telling you she enjoys these treatments (and the waxing!) I wonder what else she thinks. Despite our best intentions, kids sometimes interpret our support in ways that we don’t intend. Are you sure she is interpreting this “beauty obsession” of yours as support? What if she sees the opposite? What if she believes you are trying to make her “less hideous?”

There was a picture. Your daughter is beautiful. Let’s assume that all three of us agree on that. What about the “big star” thing?

I raised a big star. So did my husband. Some of our friends did, too. But you won’t see them on a pageant runway, in the Hockey Hall of Fame or in the winner’s circle at Saratoga. They star in their lives and their jobs and their communities. They are All Star friends and stellar parents. They are kind and generous and smart and hardworking. And loved.

This might not be the stardom you’ve got in mind but have you considered the possibility that she may not become “the other type” of star? Please, please,please…. support her in preparing for either result.

Back when the only acceptable career my 9-year-old son could imagine was playing left wing for the Boston Bruins, I didn’t tell him it was impossible. Instead, we looked together at the:

  • number of kids enrolled in youth hockey v. the number of NHL players
  • importance of diet, exercise and injury prevention
  • length of professional athletic careers and the need to have a “Plan B”
  • importance of teamwork
  • negotiation skills along with the ability to read and understand contracts
  • way that fame can sometimes help sidetrack people from their values

I’ll bet there are important life skills you can help develop in your daughter — even within the pageant settings. You should be congratulated for helping her dream big.  I hope that  your big dreams include all of the other wonderful contributions she’ll be able to make — with or without stardom.   Please help her value the rest of her beauty.

P.S. I’d have written sooner but I really had a hard time with the statement about helping her “be perfect.”  Please enjoy today and her already perfect 8-year-old self.