Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Where do I Draw the Line?

Being a parent isn’t always easy; heck, it’s rarely easy. Especially, I think, when we talk about teenagers. One challenge is knowing where to draw the line between letting kids make their own decisions (and mistakes), versus stepping in and laying down the law. Here’s an example.

My oldest daughter, God bless her, is focused on and determined to get as much college completed in high school as possible. This so she will have less time needed to complete her education after high school, thus saving her parents lots of money in tuition, and lessening her need for student loans, etc. And whatever else may be her motivation (she’s a very private person), she is strong-minded and resolved. She attends an Early College High School.

The curriculum and homework by itself is enough to be rigorous to most kids, but she also participates in competitive gymnastics. She is a level 7 optional gymnast. Which means she practices – a lot!

It is the combination of both that is my worry, as it is too heavy a load. Staying up until 2am to get it all done isn’t the answer, as she is becoming more and more sleep deprived, and I worry that she will injure herself or become sick. So as a parent, where do I draw the line?

I admire her tenacity to get a good education and I feel proud that she is so dedicated. And while I don’t think gymnastics is as crucial as her education, it is still important. She’s building strength, flexibility, and coordination, and it is a physical release for her of some of the stresses in her life. She also LOVES it.

So how do I respond to this situation when I see the toil this heavy load takes on her life? Do I suggest she go to an easier school that will still provide her a good education? Or do I tell her to back off of gymnastics and not worry about her competitions? Do I insist in one or the other? Where exactly is that parenting line – where I let her make her own decisions versus where I step in and make the decision for her?

I want to be a supportive, loving parent that does the right thing for my kids. I just wish it were easier to know exactly what that is.