As parenting styles vary, finding a balance in the number of activities for your child can be a struggle. We often believe that a child with a hectic schedule will probably develop better as an individual, but we tend to miss the purity of creative balance and self-discovery. So here’s my learning that gave me the much-required perspective:
1. I would struggle to assess normalcy in activities for my child’s development. With the hidden competition that exists more between parents than children, we always hope that we are doing the best for our child with every activity that seems fitting. I had enrolled my daughter for tennis, golf, gymnastics, ballet, art, piano and theatre just for a busy week. Ultimately, she participated with her mind and not her heart, because her mother had chosen this for her. In my saga of understanding my child, I gathered that she knows her mind and based on trial, she understands what will strike the right chord for herself. I was taking the purity of childhood and openness away from her and that made me feel like a parent who was failing.
2. The next step I took was to treat her like an adult and adopt a participative approach. We discussed areas that she would like to develop. Surprisingly, she knew what she wanted! She had the backing of sufficient opportunities to understand what she did not want. Together, we realized that one sport, one art form and one instrument were going to be her fit at this age. Aspects of theatre, communication, art were not her interest areas at this stage. To my surprise, she chose athletics with gymnastics to keep her flexible. For the art form, she was leaning towards classical Kathak with a blend of contemporary. Her choice of instrument was my biggest jaw dropper. My soft and gentle daughter was inclined towards the drums.
3. It took me a few moments to contain myself, but I was at peace that she smiled from her heart in all her activities. There were eagerness and time for her to explore free play and adventure leading to better creativity and innovation. I was thrilled that I had taken my first step towards conscious parenting!
4. I now understand that we need to let our kids’ blossom gradually. It’s no doubt all these activities will benefit them to interact with diverse people, perspectives and cultures, but also offer deep learning benefits. It develops a sense of initiative, responsibility and teamwork along with the necessary confidence. We need to exercise care to ensure we don’t go overboard as hectic schedules can make the learning disappear with the lack of time. As parents, we may build unrealistic expectations at the cost of the child’s health. Giving our children multiple experiences as they grow is of utmost importance so they understand the choices they make.
A key mantra for all in the words of Jeannie Fulbright, “Every child is unique; therefore, their education should be also”.