All of my kids have run track in high school so far. It is what our family does in the spring. My oldest child, my only daughter, set the stage for our family being a track family. Indeed, Rachel was a varsity athlete from her freshman year on; she excelled at running distance races. Then Ryan came along, and while he had other commitments in high school and may not have had the outwardly “success,” that his sister had, he was a dedicated track athlete. The twins were as well. To this day, all four of them continue to work out in a variety of ways.
So, when it was the first week of track at the high school where my fifth and youngest child Gus, a freshman, attends, I asked him what event he is doing for track; but he answered: “I’m not doing track.”
I was not thrilled with his answer, though it didn’t necessarily surprise me. Gus has never been a huge runner; but during the last three years of middle school he at least participated in field events on the track team and even tried his hand at the 800-yard. And he ran cross-country in the fall, though that took some incentives.
When high school came around in the fall, he also ran cross-country, again after some incentives and the promise of some killer – Ahem-expensive running shoes.
So, with this background knowing he is not a huge fan of running, and his response that he is not doing track at all, I suggested that he (at least) do some field events and join the high school track team.
I added with as much enthusiasm while also trying to not pressure him: “And it’s a social sport and everyone in high school is on the team and you could always do field events and it’s a great way to connect with other students and get to know some new friends.”
The thing is, it’s not like my son is not involved in activities. He is a Boy Scout who is two rankings away from Eagle. He plays indoor soccer and rec. soccer in the fall. He plays in the band and is involved with Young Life. And yet, I still wanted him to consider track.
Which, led me to say the clincher, which I knew would not motivate him, which I knew was not a great thing to say, but I said it anyway, and the moment after I said it I felt bad for saying it, but here goes anyway:
“All of your siblings have done track in high school and it would be so neat if you did too.”
Why did I say that? What in the world? I usually don’t put that kind of familial pressure on my kids. Erghh. Mom fail.
And sure enough, my son clipped back:
“That’s why you want me to do track. For your Mom Pride. So you can tell everyone that all of your kids did track.
It’s Mom Pride.”
Can you tell my son wants to be a lawyer one day?!
Don’t you just love kids when they are honest and call you out? And see through you, even if it’s not always spot on. The idea of it is interesting. With my youngest son, I just can’t get away with anything.
And it is not like I was trying to get away anything, and I do not know if I even looked at the situation as “Mom Pride.” I truly just think that track is a great activity — being on the track team is awesome for kids and my older kids truly did enjoy it, and they said that part of the reason they enjoyed it so much was the camaraderie, the social aspect. So, no, honestly, I didn’t think of it as Mom Pride, but rather just encouraging my son to do a great activity.
But the comment did get me thinking about Mom Pride. What it is and being careful to not let “Mom Pride” be our motivation.
Sure, we are proud of our kids when they do well, and we look for activities for them to do where they can be successful and to find out what they are good at, but there is a balance for sure.
We do have to be careful to not to live through our kids.
You hear of football player dads cheering from the sidelines to the point where the fun of the game seems to be lost, or you know of the swim team mom who is a little too much into the sport for her child. We love it when Johnny loves the sport we were into as kids.
When my Rachel played basketball and ran cross-country and track, I remember my brother saying to me, “How’d you get your kids to do all three of your sports? None of mine did my sports.” And after he said this, I remember feeling a deep down feeling of gratitude, thankfulness–okay, pride.
It was nice to see my daughter enjoy basketball and running as much as I did. But, each of our children is different and we have to accept them as they are. I have given each of my children the same opportunities to participate in sports and music and art and youth group. It’s important to expose our children to a wide variety of activities so they can see what they are good at.
But then we need to accept when our kids decide that the activity is not for them. This may come early on or later in their childhood.
It’s important to accept our children for who they are today not what we wish they would be in the future or what they were in the past. They are right here right now. They need to feel we accept them no matter what.
So, is Mom pride bad? I think like anything, we just have to be careful regarding our pride. Is it to make us look better? Is it for us to boast? Is it for us to say, “he’s just like me” or “all my kids did this sport or activity”?
I want my kids to know that I love them no matter what. I want them to know I am proud of them no matter what they end up choosing to do activity wise.
In the situation with my son, we do encourage our kids to choose one active activity a season to be part of– or alternatively, they get to help me with house projects! This didn’t motivate my son. He reminded me that he is refereeing soccer this spring, which is a pretty good gig. He gets plenty of exercise — and he’s getting paid for it. Can’t beat that!