Figuring out how to empower my kids to find their own passions without being pushy or projecting my own hopes and dreams onto them has definitely been a learning curve. I have seen the results of pushy parents who force their kids to be involved in the activity of the parent’s choosing, with no regard for the child. I’ve watched kids cry while being forced out onto a football field. I’ve seen parents insistent that their preschooler learn piano. And we’ve all seen those mothers on Toddlers and Tiaras. Clearly, I don’t want to be that kind of mother. I want my kids to choose what it is that they love instead of being forced into a hobby that isn’t a good fit.
At the same time, I do think that kids need some gentle encouragement. For example: India does not care for sports. At all. She’s very much like me, and more interested in reading and music. However, I really want her to find some kind of physical activity that she enjoys. I don’t care what it is . . . but I don’t want her resigning herself to the “athletically adverse” label I assigned to myself as a child. I’ve tried really hard to help her find what she enjoys. Basketball was a bust — she hated it. She wasn’t thrilled with soccer either. Finally we signed her up for tennis. She did NOT want to go initially, and it took some prodding for the first couple of lessons, but now she is really enjoying it. I think her enjoyment is heavily influenced by the adorable tennis outfits I let her pick out, but she is happily engaged in a sport, which is what I wanted for her. But did she naturally stumble onto this passion? Not at all. It was a heavily orchestrated affair.
India has also taken an interesting in learning to ride a skateboard and has also been practicing at home. I was curious to see how she would do, because she’s not as naturally athletic as her brothers (like her mama) and tends to get frustrated when things don’t come easily (like her mama). But I’m proud to say she was a trooper and held her own.
Like me though, India seems more drawn to performing arts than sports. That’s fine by me, but I am really glad we found a few physical activities that she enjoys as well. I want to encourage her love for music, but also continue to help her be well-rounded. But this week, she got to attend a music camp and I really saw her blossom. She was so in her element on that stage — not a bit of nerves. She loved every second, and I’m glad to see that she’s found her voice.
In honor of finding her voice, and in conjunction with Disney’s “Find Your Voice” singing contest, here is India singing from The Little Mermaid. Check out India’s video and then go enter your own in the Disney “Find Your Voice” Contest for your chance to win a trip to LA for a VIP experience, a state-of-the-art karaoke system, Disney Store gift cards and The Little Mermaid Gift Packs! Be sure to follow the conversation on Twitter using #FindYourVoice. Good luck!