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How far would you let your kid go to succeed in something they loved?

 
 
Reply Sun 24 Jul, 2011 11:01 am
Would you ever let it get to a point that you, personally, thought was destructive? Would you put your child in the hands of coaches/trainers/teachers that you thought were otherwise bad influences? Would you let your kid continue if they truly loved it or would you stop it before it got that far?

I was thinking about this today after reading and watching this: http://jezebel.com/5823522/why-its-important-for-9+year+old-girls-to-be-sexy. I thought it was really outrageous and couldn't believe that people would let that teacher near their daughters.

Then I thought about a person I knew a while back whose kid was training in gymnastics for the Olympics. She had a tutor instead of going to school, she spent hours and hours every day exercising and training, she had no social life, the entire family relocated to be close to one of the top coaches, etc.

The girls in this video probably have a lot more normal life than any wannabe Olympian.

What would you do if you had a kid who was really driven to do something that they loved? Where would you draw the line?
 
ossobuco
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jul, 2011 04:33 pm
@boomerang,
Good question.

As you know, I haven't raised a child, but I've had, on some occasions, primary female or otherwise listened to influence for bits of time.

This about the parents' directing (not that you asked) -
One of my experiences is that parent driven direction can cause the opposite effect desired. My niece despises camping, even now, last I heard. Dad knowledgeable. Noooooo, Dad. Dad is a quite the teach survival guy, and I'm totally on her side re camping in the cold or extreme heat. Hell, I like hotels. I liked these early, not that I was in many, but walked through some - but also liked to have my parents stop at some set of cabins in the country. On the other hand, my niece learned early to navigate the LA region by bus, is very strong in many ways, and self reliant. I can't guess if later in life she will come to have an attachment for camping. Chances are not good, though. But she will know how if the earth blows up.

Re the child's desires, it would depend. I don't think I'd ever try to make a child a version of me, even if I could do that. I would have/have fostered individual interest. Letting a child sign up with a maniacal coach? no. But I'd explain why not, and look for alternates, alternate coaches or endeavors.
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CalamityJane
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jul, 2011 09:04 pm
@boomerang,
Well, I think part of being a parent is that one sets limitation to protect the
child - sometimes from him/herself. It may not be immediately recognizable to the child or the trainers/coaches who promote this bad influence, but if a parent thinks already that whoever is coaching the child is a bad influence, it's time to put in the brakes.
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shewolfnm
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jul, 2011 09:44 pm
I think the boundaries would be set with in the parameters of that childs life at the time.

Meaning.. if the 2nd grader wanted to be a soccer star, he could practice after school. Nothing more though. That is all his schedule would allow and that is age appropriate.
Practicing on weekends? And all free hours of the day? No. If that were a 2nd graders wish, I would begin to worry about obsession .

B ut I can not think of defined limitations because it would really depend on the childs life and where there was TIME to devote to their desires.
Probably too vague of an answer..
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boomerang
 
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Reply Mon 25 Jul, 2011 07:50 am
I've seen a lot of "parent directed" influence, I've always called it stage-momming. I think we can all agree that this type of thing is destructive.

I'm thinking of kids like Michael Phelps. He was only 11 when he started training with his coach after "outgrowing" his first coach. I've read that he trained for 6 hours a day, 6 days a week, 50 miles of swimming each week, and that his coach pushed him very hard. He eats 12,000 calories a day -- almost 10 times what the normal person eats.

Kids like Bobby Fisher who was completely obsessed with chess. He started out playing the usual way -- following the direction on the game box lid.

Tiger Woods would be another example.

Would you have made them stop even when their coaches seemed to be pushing them too hard?

I'm glad I don't have to deal with a prodigy. I think I'd be all "this sucks, you're obsessed, quit playing that damn violin".
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Miller
 
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Reply Mon 25 Jul, 2011 08:05 am
Many of the parents are motivated by the financial gain their kids would enjoy if successful in their pursuits. Just look at the huge number of parents now pushing their kids into singing and dancing. Jo-Lo wanna-bes?
boomerang
 
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Reply Mon 25 Jul, 2011 08:14 am
@Miller,
I get that.

But what about if the kid is the one that wants to peruse the interest? What if it's something like Olympic diving where it won't lead to a boatload of cash for the kid and costs the parent a fortune for coaches?
Miller
 
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Reply Mon 25 Jul, 2011 08:21 am
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

I get that.

But what about if the kid is the one that wants to peruse the interest? What if it's something like Olympic diving where it won't lead to a boatload of cash for the kid and costs the parent a fortune for coaches?


I'd put my foot down, if the instruction was too costly. Today, college tuition in private schools is now over $200,000 for 4 years. When you factor in housing and extras, the cost of a 4 year private college can approach a million dollars.

If you're in the middle class you have to weigh the benefits of the college education vs the cost of the coaches for an activity that may be enjoyable, but not productive in the economic sense. I'd put the emphasis on the college education and not hire any expensive coaches.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Mon 25 Jul, 2011 08:50 am
Yes, I've thought about this. About being a spouse of a prodigy, too. My husband is seriously talented, to the point where people not-completely-jokingly talk about "when he gets his Nobel prize..."

Sometimes I think about, what if Einstein's wife insisted he was home at 6 PM every day? What are my responsibilities as the spouse of someone with that kind of talent?

My kid is currently good at a lot of things but not prodigy-level at anything. We're at the point where she's about to be expected to start specializing, though -- not do soccer AND basketball AND softball AND ballet, but choose one of them and do more to train for it throughout the year. No way she's gonna be a ballerina, so she's probably not going to continue with that for too much longer (maybe 1-2 years). But she has flashes of real talent at all of the other sports, and I'm not sure how we're going to decide on those. (Volleyball will be entering the mix soon too. She may be able to be a three-sport athlete through high school, but that's tough.)

Edit: I do wonder whether I should be doing more to support those flashes of talent, as she does that with very little background. Other kids have travel teams and older siblings who they play that sport with at home, she doesn't have any of that and still manages to compete at their level. So if she had all of that, how much better would she be? I've decided that this is a good balance for her right now.

I don't think I'd want to be the parent of a Michael Phelps unless it was very, very kid-driven. There are kids like that, who are good at something and get a huge amount of joy out of doing it and want to put that much effort in. If sozlet was like that, not sure where I'd draw the line. I think I'd do some reining in, but it would be about social relationships, general life outlook (having skills beyond the narrow skillset she was pursuing), and a sense of balance rather than money, for example. (I'm sure there's far reaches of money spent that I would not be willing to do, but I think the other things would probably come before the money got too ridiculous.)
CalamityJane
 
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Reply Mon 25 Jul, 2011 08:58 am
@sozobe,
Stay with volleyball - that's something girls want to play through the high school years too , plus, most games are on the weekend, you can't do them all at once as they're mostly overlapping in time.

Once they get braces, you become really paranoid about soccer (I was) and the older, taller and stronger the girls become, their injuries reflect that too.
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Linkat
 
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Reply Mon 25 Jul, 2011 10:24 am
If my child truly loved something so much, I would to a certain point. If a coach/trainer/teacher were a bad influence in a certain way, but excellent at what they I would – IF the child was still living with me at home where I had influence. In other words, if the coach swore, yelled too much – something along those lines, but my child still loved what they were involved in and my child still respected the coach in his/her teaching, I could discuss the bad behavior and explain what is wrong with it/people aren’t/don’t follow that part of the coach’s personality, etc. Also, their age and maturity depends a lot on this – my 12 year old I would trust in this sort of situation.

I would not go to the extreme of relocating, etc. I would not disrupt the rest of the family, but would help in any other way. I would not allow school grades to go down and would want them to still go to school, but am willing for some sacrifices.
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