Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Let Your Child be a Flying Trapeze Zombie

One of the most common questions I get from coaches is how to deal with parents who want to live vicariously through their children.

I have found this problem to be bigger in degree than quantity. What I mean is that far more often parents have a better idea of the interests and abilities of a child than the coach does. Generally, parents bring their child to judo, or any other sport, to make friends, get a healthy amount of exercise and/or because they think they're taking karate because it's all the same.

MOST parents don't have Olympic dreams for their children, and in most cases they are right. They are more interested in sending their children to a good college so they can eventually move them the hell out of the house and quit depending on the Bank of Mom & Dad. More often it is the COACH who wants to invest huge amounts of (the parents') time and money into a child who may have talent but not the motivation. This isn't such a problem, because the parents can just refuse to go along.

When it is the parent, though, who wants it more than Johnny or Susie, who is trying to live vicariously through their children - I have never been able to get through to those parents.

Let me tell you, though --- talent without motivation is a road to nowhere.

I understand the difficulty of having a child with talent without the interest. Accept it. Your child is not you. That's a period at the end of that sentence.

Sometimes I watch Julia at judo practice and I think what a shame it is she doesn't have a passion for it. She doesn't mind judo. She hops in the car most weekends, especially when she knows Ronda is teaching (Ronda is funner, I have been told). Sometimes I watch her pull off a technique and think it's REALLY too bad this is not what she wants to do. But it isn't.

In addition to judo, Julia plays on her school basketball, soccer and volleyball teams. She is on the student council, plays saxophone and just started drum lessons. Watching her at her lesson, I was quite surprised at how well she could read music.

She took a lesson at the trapeze school on the pier and loved it. So, she did two weeks of trapeze camp. Last week she was in a show as a zombie on the flying trapeze.

Parents often come up with explanations to justify what THEY want. Judo will teach their child discipline, to overcome fears, to stick with something they started, make them friends they will have for life, give them skills they will have when they are old. I believe all of those things are true. BECAUSE Julia has been on judo, she has had a leg up on every sport she has ever started. When she wanted to learn the trapeze, she wasn't afraid to fall and she was physically strong, thanks to judo.

However, music also teaches discipline and sticking with something you started and she has stuck with that for years. She's been on the student council for three years (not bad considering she is twelve). Doing a back flip in the air 30 feet above the ground probably takes overcoming some fears.

As a parent, I believe it is your responsibility to help your child grow into a good person. It is, however, neither your responsibility nor your right to force your child to grow into the person that YOU wanted to be nor the you want him or her to be.

So, I say if your child wants to be a trapeze zombie, or dress up like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and fly through the air to be caught by Captain America, let them.


Postcard Friend said...

really nice post, thanks : )

Mike said...

I was wondering if Ann Marie Rousey is single? I think she is so hot.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

I believe you have me confused with one of my daughters.

Anonymous said...

Oh no I don't, I was referring to you not you're daughter.

Evan's_Dad said...

Dr. AnnMarie,

Question: Does the MMA direction Ronda is in mean she will not be representing the USA at the next Olympics? I am very curious...

Anonymous said...

(standing ovation!) This is the best piece of advice for parents you've ever given.