Living through our kids

Hey Friends,

Let me be straight with you. I really despise dust & dirt. So, being hot and standing outside in addition to dust and dirt feels pretty miserable. Now add horses, manure, sweating, setting up tents and pens and standing with a horse in hand for what feels like hours…It leads me to wonder why I didn’t push basketball more. Sheesh!

And, did I mention, I REALLY LOVE baseball and football. The smell of the field, the anticipation of plays, watching incredible feats of athleticism. Sigh… I even coached boys’ baseball, I understand football (don’t be jealous!) and I truly revel in team sports. But, that’s not my son. He’s not passionate about those sports, I am.

A few years ago, he found western riding, specifically the world of rodeo. I naively encouraged him to take a “cowboy camp” and now, three years later, we’re all-in. As we navigated our first high school rodeo this past weekend, it occurred to me that so many parents push their kids into sports and activities so that they can live through their kids. If that were the case, I’d have Jack in quarterback camps year-round. But Jack does not love football. I do. Jack does not love team sports. I do. Jack loves horses and being a cowboy. So, I’ve had to shift my focus and commitment as well. I’ve had to reframe my values and emphasize skills he’s learning on his horse and at the barn.

Through rodeo, Jack benefits from a multitude of factors. Through rodeo, he’s found family. He’s found a community that would give you the shirt off of their backs and commit to living on fairgrounds for days at a time. At the end of the day, we’re all dusty and tired, but the smiles on our kids’ faces are priceless. Jack has also found grit and dedication. He’s the only one in the arena who catches or misses a calf. His horse does not care if it’s 110 degrees outside or raining sideways – she needs water, hay and caretaking. And if he doesn’t show up to practice, he’s letting himself down and it will show in his competitions. And, as a family, we’ve found a sport that gives as much as you give to it. I’ve never seen a bunch of kids that work harder, have greater respect for animals and a huge commitment to family than I have in the rodeo world.

So, what activity does your kid TRULY love? And are you all-in for him or her? Or, are you wishing and pushing towards something that YOU love, but your child is not passionate about? Do you have a young boy who would love to do theater but you’re insistent on sports? Does your daughter love reading and art but you push her towards group clubs? Would your kids revel in volunteering but they’re overcommitted to academics that they’re passionless about?

I’m asking you to take an honest assessment of what activities your child is involved in for YOU and for THEM. Ask yourself, is this club/sport/activity/class for me or for my child? Don’t get me wrong, there are some classes or activities that may be non-negotiable because of your family values and that’s great! Do you volunteer as a family or require religious classes? Great. But when it comes to genuine passionate pursuit for your child – him/her finding THEIR ONE THING THAT THEY LOVE AND WANT TO GIVE 10,000 HOURS TO IN ORDER TO GET BETTER, do they choose that pursuit, or do you?

There’s a lot of miles between our home and the barn or a rodeo. It gives me a lot of time to reflect on my own and talk with my son. One thing I’ve noticed is that I never have to “make” him get ready for the barn. His passion drives his willingness. That’s a great way to assess what your child is truly interested in versus what you’re driving more that he/she is in terms of passion and interest.

Just a few things to consider down this road of parenting. OK, now I’ve got to go check on the not-so-fun parts of rodeo – post clean up. Sigh – did I mention this sport is really dusty?

With compassion,

Dr. Amy