July 1, 2009 -- Question: A child prefers to study music but parents demand she play in a softball league. What should parents be considering in this scenario?
Answer: There's value to both music, arts, and sports, and kids need to learn certain skills. The important message here is: First, know your child. Does she have an aptitude for music? Do her friends play music? Does she really get into it? What is she motivated to do? It's important to know your child and help instill motivation, drive, self-determination so that they really can feel empowered to do the things that they want to do.
And know yourself as parents. So are you athletes? Is it your mission to create the athlete, or is it important to the child? Now sometimes you may urge a child to do something that they don't typically want to do. Let's say that this girl doesn't really have enough social skills or understand what it is to be a member of a team, need that kind of group experience; in which case even though she may not be as good at it or want to do it, it may be good for her to engage in sports. So there's a delicate balance between fostering a child's motivation and self-determination and also leading them in ways which will help their development.
The bottom line though is talk with your child about it. Understand the value of music and sports and see. She may say, "Look, all my friends are in the arts, all my friends play music; I really don't want to do that." And if she's working within groups and she's doing fine and she's doing well, there's not a real mission for sports unless it's your mission and be careful. You know your mission may not be the child's mission.