Let kids find their own passions—and their socks

January is the month of second (or 100th) chances, our opportunity to feel better about the past year with the promise of gym memberships and fad diets, new jobs and budgets. But forget the too-tight jeans for a second and consider: Do you need a mommy reset? Paleo is fleeting, but parenting is forever.

Step outside of the cyclone and notice what ruts you have dug—how many more times in 2019 do you want to scream about socks?

Some of us haven’t changed our parenting style since giving birth, but we won’t wear the same lipgloss twice. Yes, change is scary. Especially when the family finally believes that you actually lock yourself in the laundry room to “do laundry.”

In the spirit of new beginnings, let’s tweak two things: Passion and responsibility.

In regard to passion, let’s remember one very important thing: Our children are not us.

It makes parenting easier to pretend our children love everything we do and that they want to do everything we do. But what a disservice to their budding souls to not honor what they themselves are curious and passionate about.

When I was little all I wanted was to play the French horn. My dad said no because it was “dumb-looking and heavy.” So, he made me the play the piano instead. (The weight argument eludes me, too.)

A few months ago, my son begged to play the saxophone. I said no because I already have to fight with him to practice the piano and guitar. It would be just one more thing for me to deal with.

Enter French Horn Memory.

So I said yes.

He walks around with the sax strapped to him all the time. I never have to ask him to practice, and I really enjoy watching him figure out songs. I shudder at my potentially keeping him from something that obviously feeds his spirit.

Certainly, don’t say yes to everything. But when you jump to “no,” take a moment to realize why. Is it because it doesn’t fit into life/budget right now, or is it because it’s something you are not into?

If your kiddos light up when they ask for dance, music, coding, running or cooking lessons, consider how it will make them into well-rounded students of life and build character. On the flipside, don’t force them into hockey, flute or chess just because it excites you.

Back to screaming about socks. Let’s shake that in 2019 and have our children take more responsibility for themselves. I know kids in college who don’t know how to make something as simple as a sandwich. My babysitters leave nasty messes for me to deal with at boozy midnight. Half of the soccer team lost their shin guards by the second game.

We need to raise self-aware people when it comes to taking care of their belongings and themselves. Let them be lazy for one more month, then come up with age-appropriate chores that are non-negotiable. They can’t come downstairs until their beds are made; no TV until laundry is folded (find your own damn socks); and if they lose sports equipment or break the instrument, they have to help pay for its replacement.

Mommy isn’t going to be there to follow, find, remind and cook forever. One of the best ways to set up capable adults is to start building the concept of responsibility early.

And if they really want to play the French horn, I promise it is much lighter to carry than a piano.

Maggie Knowles writes about all things kid. She and her family live in Yarmouth, where she gardens, keeps bees and refuses to get rid of her stilettos.

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