I’m the mother of four amazing kiddos, ranging in age from eight to twenty-two. So that means that I have done it all -- from diapers to college applications, braiding doll hair to setting up dorm rooms. No part of it was easy – ever. At each stage of parenting, you fool yourself in to thinking the next part is going to be easier. I believe this is necessary for self-preservation. But coming from someone who is simultaneously on the other side, and still in the weeds, there is no easy path.
There has been a new trend in parenting though that has given me pause as an educator. I tried to find a beautifully articulated phrase, but gave up, so I’ll just say this – we have forgotten to teach our kids to suck it up. Now I say we, because I admit to my own shortcomings here as well. My mother would scoff at the lack of chores my children have and the fact that I still clean their rooms for them. But, in my defense, I have for the most part pulled it together and have been the recipient of many rolled eyes, slammed doors, and stomped feet – in my book, that means I’m winning.
As a dance teacher, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a parent tell me that little Suzy has decided that she doesn’t want to do dance anymore or Mary Jane is tired after school so they need to give her a break. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not agree with forcing your child to go to dance class. For my sake and theirs, I want to teach children who are as excited to come to class as I am to teach them. However, I’m talking more about the kids who don’t feel like dancing that day, or the teen who wants more time to socialize and can't be bothered to show up to practice. I’m sorry, but if I let my kids do nothing every time they said they didn’t feel like it, nothing would get done – period.
And believe me, I get it. My youngest can whine with the best of them, and she makes the walk from the lobby to the studio rival crossing the Sahara with her dragging feet. She is often “too tired” to go to class. But I make her go anyway (cue the wicked witch of the west music). Yes, it’s true, I force her to do something she doesn’t want to do at that exact moment. I also make her eat vegetables and brush her rat’s nest of hair if you want to add to my crimes against childhood. And guess what, ten minutes in to the class that she didn’t want to go to, she is absolutely great. Smiling, well-behaved, and participating. She saves all her sass and drama for me. And she comes out of class flushed, sweaty, and giggling. And that’s a win!
As a business owner, I hear time and time again how this generation has no work ethic and no follow through. Now personally, I have met some of the most dedicated, outstanding young men and women, who represent their generation with nothing but the highest standards. But maybe that’s because they didn’t sit out of dance class! As adults, there is a daily laundry list of tasks that we have to do just because they need to get done. In my humble opinion (sorry mom), our children should have a much shorter list. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t take opportunities to show them how to live responsibly. If you make a commitment to a team, you show up. If you decide to invest in a sport or activity, you see it through. If you aren’t “feeling it” that day, guess what? I wasn’t “feeling it” when I had to scrub the dirty toilet this morning, yet somehow you peed in a clean bowl. Come on parents, we can do this! I have way too many students who decide to give up when the going gets tough. These are smart, talented, bright students who just need a little push in the right direction. So, let’s get moving - I’m right there behind you to add a little shove if needed. We owe it to these kids to expect more and trust me, they can deliver.
So, the next time your kiddo is too tired, bored, sick, busy, (insert the excuse of the day here)….to do what you know is the right thing to do – repeat after me…”suck it up," - and just keep on dancing!