By Annie Fox
Crazy-fearless young snow boarders defy gravity in the half-pipe. Who knows how the hell they do it, but man, it look like a total blast. Parents in the crowd, happily freezin’ for a reason, beam up unconditional love and support to their McTwisting young ‘uns. The commentator crows “Are those proud parents or what?”
Well, yeah… your kid’s competing in the Olympics! What’s not to be proud? And by the way, looks like he’s bringing home Vancouver gold so dust off the mantle. Talk about bragging rights, reflected glory, and a chunk of change from commercial endorsements. Not too shabby for a kid you worried wouldn’t amount to anything cause all he ever wanted was to do tricks.
It got me thinking that maybe the Flying Tomato and the other joyful but oh so focused kids on the boards weren’t always a source of parental pride. Just guessing there might have been a few heated conversations ’round the kitchen table about why the boy couldn’t think of a more ‘productive’ way to spend an afternoon.
What if the parents of Shaun White and Louie Vito had come down heavy and managed to squelch their kids’ early passion? What if they took parental responsibility to mean “re-direct kid toward practical pursuits”? If every parent went that route I’m guessing there wouldn’t be Olympic snowboarding to thrill and inspire us landlubbers.
I’m wondering how often we parents, with all good and loving intentions, snuff out the flame of a kid’s interests because we don’t see where it could possibly lead? Just don’t see what they see.
Annie Fox, M.Ed. has been an award winning author, educator, and online adviser for parents and teens since 1997. http://anniefox.com
Read excerpts from her books: Too Stressed to Think? And the new Middle School Confidential™ series.
Download (free) her entire Teen Survival Guide to Dating & Relating, http://teensurvivalguide.com
Listen to her podcast series “Family Confidential: Secrets of Successful Parenting”