About a month ago I saw a news segment about a father who pushed his son down a skateboarding ramp because he was taking too long. The boy was six and the ramp was high and he was scared. As a parent there are times that we need to gently nudge our children, whether its coaxing them to practice a little more piano or letting go of the bike as a kid learns to ride. Regardless, there is a line that seems to be crossed more times than not that the coaxing turns nasty and it isn’t fun anymore.
Now I never have skateboarded, I know nothing about it. However, if I saw my kid was scared, I would have never just pushed him down (this child ultimately fell off the skateboard and hit the bottom on his knees). I know instead I would have cheered him on saying, “You can do it.” But at the end of the day, if he didn’t want to go down I would have never forced him down. How is pressuring your children and pushing them to the point of being uncomfortable going to establish a trusting relationship, let alone create an eager environment to try that task again?
I can’t help but wonder if these pushy to the point of destructive parents aren’t living vicariously through their children. They had their chance to be kids and whether it was all of what they wished it to be or not, it’s not their turn anymore. Now the focus should be on the betterment of their children. These parents also need to realize that their children’s interests may be similar to theirs or it may be very different. We need to embrace and encourage those new interests because it really doesn’t matter what you are interested in, its what’s interesting to them, what will motivate them forward. It’s like the “Little Engine That Could”, if we can teach our kids the “I think I can. I think I can,” mantra, you and the child will be better off than the lesser known but often taught, “I’m scared but I better do it.” mantra.