Tuesday, November 2, 2010

to push or to praise...finding the balance between the two "p"'s

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how David and I parent.

Well, I actually daydream about that all the time, but I've been thinking specifically about how we praise and push our kids. And I've been pondering about how to find a good happy-medium.

This has been on my mind specifically lately because for my calling I've been making the rounds to watch various primary programs at church (once a year the kids ages 4-12 get up and do the program in Sacrament Meeting).

It's so interesting to watch all those hundreds of kids do their speaking parts. Some are sheepish and shy, and must have an adult at their side whispering all the words to them as they speak. Others stand up and belt out the words from memorization with all the enthusiasm and confidence in the world. And then there's everything in between.

It makes my mind wander all over the place: how much of the confidence and exuberance is trained and how much just comes in the package of that particular child? How much were they pushed to memorize those lines? How much of that beautiful public speaking comes because those parents sat patiently with those children and really helped them, and expected more, and how much were they just born with? How much of the performance is a result of how much the leaders pushed? Should I start home-schooling my kids because those kids who I know are home-schooled stood out like little stars? Should I revamp the idea I had ages ago that kids should memorize a new poem each month and recite it to the family? Should I just generally expect more of my kids?

(I know, it's a little scary how much I let my brain wander from a few little primary programs, and certainly there are TONS of different avenues we can push our children, public speaking is such a tiny fraction of them...but it's just been on my mind a lot lately.)

In our family David claims he's the "pusher" and I'm the "praise-er."

When I wrote this post, Dave joked that when I get out a pen to write the kids' talents on their fingertips, he should write what they could use a little work on on their toes.

And I LOVE how he pushes.

Because you know what? I want our kids to strive toward excellence. Of course most parents do. But sometimes I'm just too much of a push-over to make them work overly hard at it.

When Max finishes the yard work, Dave gets annoyed if he leaves out the trash can. Then I'm quick to jump in and remind him how great the lawn looks. When Grace comes home with 24 out of 30 on a test he is disappointed, and I quickly point out her beautiful handwriting.

Sure, we both stress over and over again that we must do our best. But Dave is much better at keeping those "great expectations" above par. And as he does, those kids rise to the occasion.

If our kids become superstars some day, it'll be all because of Dave. And I'm so thankful for that.

Still, I think kids need the letters on their fingers AND their toes.
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