When I see a birth announcement that says: "Here's the new member of the soccer team," I cringe. What if this child hates soccer?
Every child is born with his own unique temperament. When your child shares your interests it's easy to encourage his involvement in his choice of hobbies and sports.
But what if he has a different take on life from you?
I have friends who are bookish sorts. They love reading. They happily hang out in the local library and enjoy the theatre.
They have a daughter and she is all jock. She loves sports. Her parents have been fabulous. They attend her soccer games even though they could care less about the sport and for the most part have no idea what's happening on the field.
They dressed her in denim instead of frills and bought balls and hiking boots for gifts instead of dolls and toy ovens.
They learned to respect her temperament even while not always understanding it.
It's important to get to know your child and appreciate and support who he or she is. It can be a challenge because you have likely had the dream of sharing your passions with your youngster. And you can try.
You can ask her to try something new but it's not worth it to make everyone's life miserable by trying to make an artist into a jock.
Watch what she does when she has her own unstructured free time and that will let you know what to offer.
Does she like to kick a ball around the park? Then soccer is a good idea. But if she starts to dance and twirl around the living room every time she hears music, a dance class is likely just the ticket.
Often, kids will get involved with activities with their friends. So, find out what their friends like to do and suggest they join them. My son got interested in football that way.
But the real issue for you is the activities they show no interest in but which you want to promote. Be honest with them. Tell them that you always loved soccer when you were a kid and you would like them to give it a shot.
Then give them a time limit. Tell them that it would be a favour to you for them to join the soccer team for one session and then it's their choice.
If they end up liking it, resist the desire to say I told you so and if they hate it, respect their choice.
When you listen to what she wants, you will be giving her the respect she deserves. What does she want to do? Then support the activities she loves.
Become the involved parent as a driver or fundraiser. You may not be a good choice as a coach but you can still earn the basics about her sport.
Know the rules and understand the position that she plays. And allow her to try different activities.
On the other hand, don't belittle his choices. One parent I know hated all team sports but his son wanted to play soccer. So he signed him up for the local team and took him to the practices and the games.
But the whole time he said to anyone who would listen that he simply could not understand why his son wanted to play. His son quit after one season.
Don't only pay attention to him when he participates in something you love, or force him to take part in something he hates. And don't compare him with his cousin who is into the sport you love.
When we ask them to do things that don't fit with their particular interests and temperament, they are likely to do badly.
They will not only be unhappy about the activity, they will feel like a loser because people tend to do well at what we like and badly at what we don't like.
Extracurricular activities are supposed to be fun and exciting for kids. When they are being forced into activities that don't fit, it's not fun.
. Tri-Cities resident Kathy Lynn is a parenting expert who is a professional speaker and the author of Who's In Charge Anyway? and But Nobody Told Me I'd Ever Have to Leave Home. If you want to read more, sign up for her informational newsletter at www.parentingtoday.ca.