Thursday, February 07, 2013

I didn't think I was one of those parents, but...

I didn't think I was the kind of parent who boxed my children into categories, but this week I've had two close shaves with doing this.

I think it's probably human nature - we want to categorise things so we can say, 'That is safe and that is dangerous.' You know, essentially, at its base categorising is about surviving and being able to predict things.

I notice, for example, that similar looking people often have similar mannerisms and even attitudes towards things.

I saw a post on a parenting forum this week asking if naming a child a particular name influences their personality. On the face of it, we scoff and saying, 'Of course not!' But often when choosing names for our kids we avoid names of children we have not liked so much in the past - teachers, in particular, struggle with this. We do this because we can't help but think that a child with the same name as a little bully might become a little bully.

I've seen lots of discussions about labelling children. You know those parents. 'This is my intellectual child, and this is my sporty child...' Which seems to suggest the intellectual child might be a klutz and the sporty kid is probably not an academic high achiever.

Yes, well, I've always prided myself on not really doing this with my kids. Sure, I've gone on about Erik's great artistic ability and I've said Luey and Bryn are both little book worms and Luey is very musical and loves maths as well. But I've always thought I was very open to my children doing anything they like...

Until this week...

The first incident was when Erik came home from school and said he wanted to take up an instrument. Now, we'd asked him before Christmas if he wanted to do this, but he hadn't been interested. On Monday he was talking about taking up the drums. I couldn't help but think he was treading on Luey's turf. I found myself asking him this. He swore he wasn't. I suggested he had never been interested in playing an instrument until Luey got an acoustic guitar from his Amma, but Erik said he'd 'always' wanted to play the drums. So, I told him to check it out the following day at the information session. As it turns out, he didn't go to the information session.

The second incident was last night when Luey announced to me that he was going to do the Landscapes painting project in year six. If you're a regular reader of the blog you'll know that Erik did this to much acclaim last year. Again, I couldn't help but feel he is wanting to prove something by doing this. I found myself feeling a little anxious about how this might turn out if Luey's painting wasn't to Erik's standard, but on reflection, that is irrelevant. He wants to paint, he should be able to paint. He will bring his own advantages to the painting. Luey's concentration levels are greater than Erik's and his eye for detail is stronger as well - in many ways, Luey is like the Grumpy Old Man in this respect, he tends to achieve the things he puts his mind to.

These two incidents have opened my eyes to a tendency I didn't believe I had; to categorise - and therein limit - my children.

The musician who wants to paint...

The artist who wants to learn the drums...



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