My husband, W, and I grew up very differently, and in many ways are polar opposites. Where I can multitask the heck out of a to-do list, he can only do one thing at a time (a perfect trait for the engineer he is). Where I’m proud of a good “deal”, W’s response would be, “you didn’t need it in the first place”. I’m more comfortable in social situations; he would be fine not talking to anyone for days. I can tell you who’s on Dancing with the Stars. He can tell you about String Theory. It complements us in our marriage, but it brings some challenges when approaching how to bring up our daughter and engage her interests.
We have an informal wish list of activities we want our daughter, A, to be involved in, based on our interests, of course. In retrospect, that list is quite lofty – she is, after all, just one kid: social butterfly, martial artist, Irish dancer, multilingual aficionado, competitive swimmer, science and math wiz, lover of music, reader of books, master of all fix-it tools, machines and gizmos, philanthropist, philosopher, and the list goes on.
Our first issue is that not all of those things are mutual desires. So, who gets their say in what A’s introduced to? We both want her to be well-rounded, but there is a point when our different backgrounds cause problems and often have trouble seeing each others’ desire for a certain ability or activity. It doesn’t help that we live in an area rich with resources and experiences that aren’t necessarily found other places.
Fairfield County is a great place for kids to learn, but the expectations are higher and more competitive than in many other places. The median household is slightly lower than $80,000/ year, and with that brings opportunities kids in other areas of the country, and even the state, will never have. It’s an awesome thing to know A will likely learn things growing up that she may not have before we moved here four years ago. She certainly has more opportunities than both of her parents had — but I’m still not sure this is an all-together good thing.
This brings me to our second issue: the pesky over-scheduling problem. We have expressed our worries – being those parents; the ones who, I’d like to hope, have the best interest of their child at heart but want and expect too much. Just one look at the list above and anyone can see we have serious goals for A, and I worry the stress of being well-rounded will be the killjoy in her childhood.
We’re obviously not the only ones concerned as I found many online articles about this subject, and equally as many comments defending and condemning having too many activities for kids.
Here are some of my favorites:
I’ve ordered a copy of The Secrets of Happy Families mentioned in the NYTimes article, but I’m weary of parenting books that usually tell you everything you already know.
In the end, we just have to wait and see what “takes” and what gets thrown to the side. Knowing what I know about the two personalities she has come from, the chances are very good that A will shun everything we like, go her own way and be very vocal that she’s had enough.
Until then, if you see a little girl jigging her way to the library wearing a bathing suit and speaking to herself in French and Mandarin, you know whose parents she belongs to.