Pushing the Line

As a parent there is a fine line between pushing your kids to do their best and pushing them down. We walk that fine line with our own kids all the time. Bret pushes Emily. She tends to be a baby about things sometimes. Almost like she is afraid to try something new or to do something on her own. He encourages her and a lot of the time it surprises me how well she actually does. I love the look on her face when she surprises herself and builds the confidence she needs.

Bret was at gymnastics class the other day with Emily sitting in the parent waiting area and was shocked by the behavior of some of the parents. One dad actually got out of his seat and went into the practice area to scold his son for the crappy somersaults that he was doing when the father knew perfectly well he could do them just right at home because they had been practicing. Um...hello he is only four.

I was not a sports kids growing up but my friends were. I always felt awful on the ride home with some of my friends (and or siblings/in-laws) after the games having to listen to a parent lecture them on what they didn't do right. The "you should have been doing this and why didn't you do this" seemed to bother me more than the kid or least that was how they let on. Most of the time the kid just blocked them out.

I think the hardest part for me is that these expectations our parents set for us don't go away even as adults. Neither does the inner desire to make your parents proud of you. Over the course of our last 10 years together Bret and I have experienced this from various people in our lives as well. These opinions have been about getting married too young, having children early in our marriage, how many children we have or are going to have, whether we should have bought our house or not, whether I should stay home or work, and on and on. It is so frustrating and hurtful. Sometimes I want to yell back and say you know what? Bret is going to be one of the youngest OB/GYN's in the country. I have an MBA and have been successfully employed for 9 years now. We have supported ourselves and our children. We live in a crappy 2 bedroom apt because we choose to. We are paying off our debt and securing our future. Back the f*$& off. It's like there is this imaginary bar that some people (trying to give a little anonymity) have set that no matter how hard we bust our butts we may never reach.

I am off on this tangent because another member of our family has recently been struggling with the same situations. I have advised how we handle it. Get pissed off, get over it, then decide to ignore it and do things our own way anyways. If we were trying to please our families we sure as heck wouldn't be having a 3rd baby right now.

I think that behind all of this pushing and high expectations there is a lot of internal crap going on. All parents want more for their kids than they had for themselves. Maybe the thinking is that if I push them harder than I was pushed or if I help them to avoid the mistakes that I made then they will in turn be more successful than I was. Or maybe it is a pride thing. Parents want their kids to be more successful so that it reflects more positively on themselves. Maybe that theory comes from watching all of the pageant moms on TV...who knows.

I wish that if a parent has something to say about our lives or our choices they would have the balls to say it to our face. Please know that the rest of your family and friends talk. It is more hurtful to hear from them what you think than it would be to hear the "concern" from you. Maybe then we could actually talk about your worries and maybe even put some of your concerns to rest.

Instead we are left contemplating how the best way to "disappoint or piss" you off would be. Hmm...maybe instead of 4 kids we should have 6. Better yet maybe we should encourage our siblings to get pregnant right away so that you can focus the heat on someone else for awhile. Maybe instead of waiting a few years after this baby we should get pregnant right away. Maybe instead of moving home where you can keep an even closer eye on the choices we make we should try and keep the distance. Maybe we should do the one thing you hate and actually confront you on your own issues. Or maybe I will just blog about it to express how it makes me feel and move on. I choose the last one.


Bea said...

Man, I know how you feel. I feel unfairly judged by my parents as well as my sister. We married young and we're having our first kid young, but we're both working hard and we're happy. If I lived the way they wanted me to, I'd be miserable. I wish it wasn't so complicated...

Julia@SometimesLucid said...

I SO know how you feel. My moms favorite phrase to me is "I'm not telling you what to do, I'm just discussing it with you". Ummm, why are you the only one talking in this "discussion"???

Girl With The Golden Touch said...

I know what you mean :( I just try and calm myself down from stuff like this by thinking, when I become a mum I won't be the same :| xx

Momma Miller said...

Loved this post! I found you thought Mrs. Musings--I loved your latest comment over there and had to come read your blog to see what you were up to.

Parental expectations are so difficult. I would be fine with discussing things with my own family, but those childhood expectations often creep in (even after 14 years of marriage).

We waited a long time to have babies for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest was that I wanted to be home to raise my babies and we didn't see that being possible during those early years of scrimping and saving and putting hubby through the MDiv and PhD. One of us needed to work, so we did just that to meet our goals. It doesn't mean we think there's anything wrong with starting right away. It doesn't mean anyone else is WRONG and we are right. It doesn't mean we were waiting to be older and wiser. It was simply our choice. Why does it become a huge thing for others debate? Ugh.

Now that we've had three babies in just over 5 years, and home birthed our third after two previous cesareans, it's like our friends and families have freaked out--both have (very carefully) talked about birth control methods or other such things related to the number of children. It's NO ONE's business.

Because of our experiences, we work hard to maintain lines of privacy and confidentiality. It's certainly not easy, though.

Hugs to you! Will be back!


Musings of the Mrs. said...

I know exactly how you feel and this was a very well written post. I think we all struggle with this to some degree. I have family members that I think put WAY too much pressure on their kids to succeed in sports. My parents weren't like that at all, but in looking back, both my brother and I could have been professional golfers had they put some pressure on...but they were not those kind of parents. It is SUCH a fine line.

In terms of having kids, I hear about getting pregnant about 10 times per week. I'm 33 and they are so fricking concerned about my biological clock. It drives me bananas.

The best thing we do is just live far enough away that they cannot just stop by. I think I would go crazy if we were any closer. At least this way, I can choose when to talk and when to visit. It empowers me. Maybe its the cowardly way out, but its the only way I know how to make sure my life is my own.

Sorry for the rant. I guess you touched a nerve today.

Stephanie said...

I totally agree that we still, as adults, find ourselves trying to uphold the expectations of our youth/childhood. As you say, everyone has an opinion and it's your choice, as an adult, how you (and significant other) will deal with it. I've reached that point where I say, it's my way and I don't care if you like it or not, but it was a looooooooong road to get here.

Adriana said...

You guys have no idea what a relief it is to know that we are not the only ones dealing with this issue. You guys rock!

alissa said...

it is really unfair that people put that kind of pressure on their kids! it does stick with them for their whole life and can cause some damage. it seems more prevalent in more recent generations dont you think - like with sports especially?