For years I encouraged my 12-year daughter to read the Harry Potter stories. They were filled with story elements she loves: dragons, magic, power struggles, mystery, awkward teen romance, crazy characters, and more. She resisted, I think mainly because the recommendation came from her dad. A few weeks ago while visiting family her cousin got her to watch the first of the Harry Potter movies. She got hooked and is now halfway through the 5th book.
My 15-yr-old son hated ice skating. We had a less-than-stellar first experience when he was younger and he decided skating was not for him. We are not a hockey family and I’m at best a novice skater myself, but I haven’t been able to coax him out on the ice ever since that initial negative episode. Last week his friends went to the ice rink and a buddy paid for his skate rental. Stumbling around the rink with others with equally poor skating skills was apparently what he needed make a fresh attempt, and he came home glowing.
Sometimes as a parent I want to push. Or linger. Or nag. Or hold on. Occasionally there are situations when such actions are appropriate and helpful. But there are many other people influencing my kids’ lives now. Many other voices, and its up to my kids to decide which voices they will heed. I feel bittersweet pride and sadness to watch them grow and make their own decisions. I won’t gloat when they talk to me about Harry Potter or ice skating, because it’s much more joyful to join in their happiness than prove I was right.
Sometimes the best thing is to let go.