Parenting Norms aren’t One Size Fits All

Sometimes parents fall in to what I call “parenting norms” and forget to self-examine their intentions.

Let’s say your kid starts playing the trombone at 10.  A parenting norm would say that you have them practice every day for 10 min. or whatever is required.

And, I suppose for music proficiency, this is also a good idea. But what if this isn’t a good fit for the child?

What if the kid likes to play music without all the pressure and nagging of practice? What if the pressure and nagging to practice sucks the joy of music from their lives? Was it worth it?

It’s ok to change the goal to be “let my kid enjoy music however they want.”

We’ve become a parenting society that dictates if your kid isn’t performing at the top level of the topic then it’s looked at as a waste of time and money. The result of this is claiming ownership to our children’s success in activities and in turn using this as proof of parenting proficiency.

I’m not referring to the kids who find themselves enveloped in a passion and want to put work into achieving a personal level of success. I have one of those too and that’s different.  Kid led motivation and fulfillment is the goal.  

Sometimes kids like to play a sport, play an instrument, have a hobby for the fun of it, and not the competition of it.

Can we, as parents, let them?

Can we put aside our own goals and dreams of what we want them to accomplish and allow them to grow passions and talents on their own time frame?

I think the time frame has a lot to do with it. Parents expect X growth or proficiency in X amount of time.  We look at other same aged kids who might have more development and make that OUR goal for our children.

I mean, we’re paying with our time and money so shouldn’t we expect something in return?

Maybe not.

Or maybe the payment is your child playing cello, soccer, chess, 5 years later, not at the top performance levels but at a level that fulfills them with passion and happiness.

I don’t know a parent who doesn’t put their kids happiness towards the top of their parenting goals. Because when they become adults, we want them to be happy.

Maybe we can become more aware of the parenting norms we fall for that dictate a false social standard towards “childhood success.”  We pause and decide what is best for our own family and child situation. We can stop comparing our kids and taking ownership in their success as our own. We can start letting happiness and joy be the goal and let that grow organically.

How can we start? Let your children lead the way because as much as you think you know them, they know themselves better.

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The Education Pressure Cooker- Stop the Insanity

There’s a buzz around our community about the pressures that students in our community are under.

There is some illusion that only the most “well rounded”  4.something gpa holding, captain of varsity sports and spends summers in southern Uganda curing ebola gets to choose the college they want to attend.

This same line of thinking leads to kids as young as 8 studying for standardized tests.

Parents enroll their children in additional Saturday schools, enrichment programs, and curriculum specific tutoring.

They are disappointed in a C. They are most happy with A’s.

They repeat stories of “Their child needs to live up to their potential and that if their kids just worked harder, they too could get better grades”

That sounds like “No winning or pleasing that parent 101” to me.


Better grades = better test scores = better college = better life?

What expense are you willing to pay for that result?

Are you willing to put your kid’s passions aside so they can become the best version of what you want them to be?

It’s time to look hard in that parenting mirror and make some choices.

Decide to truly support your children in both their strengths and weaknesses, passions and dislikes or decide to continue the rat race to push your children towards society generated definitions of success.

The irony is that we live in an area of highly successful, hard working, and really stressed out adults.

We know better. It’s time to do better for our children.

You ready for high school?

Our school year ends in May and I’ve started encountering “You ready for high school” more and more lately.

I confidently say YES!

Over the past few years I’ve deliberately taken a hands-off approach to his schooling. He manages his own time with homework.  He manages his own grades. And this year as his extra curricula activities have increased, I’ve had him start managing his own calendar.

It takes a village and sometimes part of that village is the kids themselves.

And you know what? He’s doing it. It hasn’t been perfect but there’s no better time to learn these skills than when the risks are low.

Academically he’s signed up for a pretty challenging course load for 9th grade. I think it’s going to catch him off guard a bit. He’s used to getting his work done in school and I don’t think that’s the way it works when there’s no study hall.


He’s also going to take Latin. His father and I met in Spanish class and were fluent at the time but hey, this is what you get when you raise kids to think for themselves.

He has grown (6’2” what?) and matured so much that sometimes I just can’t believe I get to parent him. We haven’t run into the “miserable emo teen” phase yet.  But, man has his ability to lawyer represent himself in situations have nearly surpassed my ability to counter point him.

I still say I have the quickest wit in the house…..that’s mostly true but it’s getting close.

He has composed music for over a year and wrote me a piece for my birthday. It was titled “Oxbow Lake” and if you know what that is, makes it all the more special and profound. I play it often.

His father is what I call a “universal” in that nearly everyone who meets him, likes him.  Our older son didn’t inherit that (younger one did). He got my somewhat socially awkward and yet strong confidence that confuses people so it’s a 50/50 when people walk away if they want to talk again or NEVER again. He’s also very much like me in that social status or popularity matters less than zero to him. He knows who he is and stays true.  It’s been helpful in Jr. High and I think it will continue to work for him in high school……and life.

Watching him become more HIM has been a gift.

So, yeah, we’re ready.