Which Witch?

March 8, 2010 by Rieshy

It must be my parent's fault.  They never sent me to field hockey camp during spring break. They didn't sign me up for cotillon lessons...

Back before children, in the pre-history of my marriage, I worked the reference desk at a small public library. One of the things that shocked me the most was Thursday nights.  

On Thursday nights the library would be full of parents wandering about with poster board, markers, paper, and change for the xerox machine.  They were at the library to do the research and even to write their children's school papers.

First the wild-eyed parent would ask me how to find a certain poem.  Or how to run the microfiche machine- mind you I'm 42 so this was all, gasp, before the internet.  Then they would sheepishly explain that their daughter had had so many cheerleading commitments that she just couldn't get to the library.  Or, my son forgot about the assignment..., or my child plays ____ sport and if they don't get a passing grade they are off the team.  

The Thursday night phenomena always astonished me because growing up my parents wouldn't even ask co-workers if they wanted to buy my girlscout cookies because, "that was my responsibility."  Trying to imagine my Dad willing to do my science project made my brain hurt.

It wasn't that my parents were not educated or involved.  My father has his doctorate from Harvard. I grew up a professor's kid on Ivy League and graduate school campuses. My mother didn't have a college degree but she outsmarted my Dad anyway.  My parents expected high grades and they also spent a lot of time with us- they were always available.  

My parents simply came from a time and place where childhood was about doing chores, swinging from trees and learning to take care of yourself.  Louis L'Amour meets Dick and Jane.  They didn't know that other parents were working the angles and pushing my friends to excel with tutors and S.A.T. prep classes and sports workshops on weekends.  Or if they knew, they thought it was silly.

This all flash forwards to now.  Which Witch?- just sounded catchier than, "Are you the type of mom that feels it is important to push your child to achieve perfection (and even do some of the work yourself) or are you laid back and willing to let your child choose their own path, even if that path is scholarship-less and un-strewn by accolades?"

Which Witch?

Making Your Home Sing Monday is an interesting place to browse!


Anonymous said...

Oh I am like you and your parents most definitely. I actually will be writing about EMily's science fair soon. Some 8 year old pretty much split an atom all by himself- ok sure...

By the way, I wanted to tell you that I was telling my husband about your headstand and I was inspired. I tried doing a tripod.

Note the word "tried." Tried begins with the letter "T"

Tylenol also begins with the letter "T"

Gregory Tipton said...

I believe children need to learn about failure (at least) as much as they need to succeed... I also believe that experiencing failure can motivate them to be better prepared when they meet greater challenges.

Rieshy said...

Ouch, the tripod is actually harder IMHO. Just remember, my blog carries no insurance policy.

I look forward to reading about the split atom!

Betsy said...

I am the more laid back parent. My childhood was all about having fun and that is what I wanted for my children. I had good grades and got scholarships based on that, not sports.

My dh on the other hand, came from an overachieving ivy league family. He went ivy league himself and has had to work to not push our children too much. He also played sports, and that simply is not possible for our children.

Needless to say, our partnership is all about compromise. We have blended our parenting styles and thus far it has worked out pretty well. Homeschooling gives us the flexibility we need with our children and has allowed them to blossom despite the medical issues they daily face.

Rieshy said...

Greg, when you put it like that it sounds so much better than thinking we are just lazy.

Unknown said...

I'll admit there is an element of laziness to it, but you have to keep your sanity somehow! Besides, if kids sense you are obsessing about something, they usually don't cooperate anyway. This has only backfired on me in certain departments: wearing pants, brushing teeth, and other matters of cleanliness/modesty. What can I say? I have boys.

My husband, well, he was run over by a car as a child, so he veers toward the helicopter parenting style out of sheer panic. I'm on a tangent here, but education comes in different forms, and it doesn't just happen at the library. I feel that as long as there is no serious bodily harm done, and I keep my kids away from motor vehicles, they may bounce and scrape, and learn and (hopefully wearing pants) explore the wide world.

momstheword said...

I had to sell my own stuff too. I remember when I was working and a co-worker came up to me and asked me to buy his daughter's cookies. I remember being so surprised that he was doing the work for her.

We homeschool and we never pushed our kids. Encouraged yes, but not pushed. I do think that you can push to hard and expect to much. Childhood just doesn't seem for kids anymore.

Our 21 year old carried a 4.0 his first two years of college, he was adament about maintaining it and worked hard to do so. Once during our homeschool math class (when he was a senior), he got one question wrong on his math. Just one! But he was really upset about it.

One of the things I told him was that he needed to learn to fail. The other thing I said was that one wrong was not failure, and that many people would be thrilled to only have one wrong.

He was so much of a perfectionist that he "had" to be perfect. I think he's learned how to "fail" a bit these last couple of years. Hope so anyway as he has two more years of college left. He just needs to relax a bit.

This strikes me as funny, as some parents are encouraging their kids to get an "A" and I am sometimes encouraging mine to relax and settle for a "B!" Lol! Thanks for linking up.

Rieshy said...

I go back and forth on whether we have the right balance.

Betsy- sometimes I worry and obsess that I should push my 3 yo in piano lessons in case his metabolic disorder costs him his vision- even though in general I don't believe in early formal lessons. That's when I have to make myself breathe through my nose and trust God.

Nan, I had a friend in college who was told by her father that she was not allowed to have a 4.0. He required at least one B from her- all because he thought she pushed herself too hard if not reminded to stop and smell the roses.

Rieshy said...

JoAnn, Sanity and pants. Two valuable commodities.

Erin said...

Susan, at 46, I do remember microfiche! That said, we've been raising three children without the sports and the commitments. We're now homeschoolers, but haven't always been. We're picked and chosen for our children, according to their needs, not their wants. Lazy? I don't think so. It is darned hard work to make sure the family eats together every night. It is really difficult to watch your child in college take out loans because he was too stubborn to a) save money or b) fill out scholarship applications. The reality? They get to live their own lives. My job is to give them to skills to do so...not do the work for 8th grade a second or third time.

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