Mothers have this awesome, profound impact on their offspring. We are all quick to think about the effect our own mother had on us, but it is a little harder to ponder the impact we may be having on our own children. Being all things to all people doesn’t seem to be an affliction that men suffer from, although I do know more and more who are involved in their children’s lives to a deeper level than past generations would have ever believed. Being all things to all people is an affliction that keeps many a woman up at night.
When my younger son hit the right age for Pop Warner football, he really wanted to join. I believe in giving my kids the opportunity to try out a variety of activities, but I was already aware that this particular activity considered itself more of a vocation than a passing interest and had a large time and effort expectation of parents and players. I was also working about 14 miles from home, full time at this stage. I had to say no, please pick a different sport.
I thought of this again recently because I just read an article that more and more students are opting for sports through exclusive clubs at a fairly early age. These clubs do offer the children a great opportunity to excel, but at what overall cost? First there is usually a sizable financial commitment, then there is the time involved, etc.
Work-life balance is a phrase that hasn’t come up much in the past couple of years while businesses find ways to cut costs that often mean more strain on their staff. Oddly, in times of stress work-life balance is a more worthy discussion because the actual balance is sorely lacking. Add in the family needs aspect and it really gets intense.
Back to my example, my son still feels slighted because his older brother played a season of Pee Wee football in our old town and he couldn’t play until high school. I feel sad that he has not found a way to reconcile this disappointment, but otherwise my feelings are a throw-back to prior generations. I have a short list of activities that I didn’t get to do as a child because participation would have required too much general family sacrifice. Parents wanted their children to be happy and to have broader and better experiences than the parents themselves, but not to the point of disrupting family life. Now we seem to think that we should move heaven and earth to give our child these experiences.
But sometimes life will put blocks in the way of your hopes and dreams, so perhaps it is better to learn about compromise when the stakes are about a sport and not a livelihood.
We have to work so hard and so regularly for balance because it is elusive and takes concentration. Children can learn that part of balance is making choices.
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