Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Balancing support vs responsibility

The parental question of the week for me has been, how much do I support, and how much do I let go?

Sylvia has a lot to do to prepare for her audition for the arts high school that she wants to attend. Because she's auditioning in two disciplines (dance and visual arts), the responsibilities are double. She's lucky to have a professional dancer choreograph her solo, but she needs to rehearse it in heels. She has to put together a portfolio of her art work, and has to include certain types of pieces. She has to have certain attire for the dance class that's part of the audition process.

It would seem pretty clear which of those responsibilities are mine, and which are hers. I've given her the info on the portfolio requirements, bought her the necessary attire (and portfolio), and put her rehearsals on my calendar to get her there and pick her up on time. It's up to her to rehearse the solo (not just in rehearsals, but at home), make sure she brings what she needs to, and put her portfolio together properly.

Still, I'm struggling with the balance issue. I keep having to remind her to rehearse, I keep having to ask her about the art pieces, bring what she needs to rehearsal. And I'm so tired of it.

So last week, we had a long talk. I told her what she needed to accomplish on Saturday before her rehearsal on Sunday, and that I wouldn't be reminding her again. It was up to her to get it done on our free home day. But at 8 p.m. on Saturday night, I started nagging. Of course, her first reaction was to get defensive; I'd promised not to nag her. But see, it's 8 pm, and you haven't done anything yet! I'm not sure how much she ended up rehearsing, but she got half the portfolio done.

It's hard to know at this age just how much I have to stay on her, and how much to let her fail or succeed on her own. Of course, it's her life, and if she should be willing to put in the work to get what she wants, but at the same time, are the consequences too great if I step back too far and she doesn't come through? Is that too hard a lesson to learn at the age of 13?

There's also the point of respecting how much others have put into this. Not just me; obviously, I'm her mother and am supposed to do these things for her. But the woman that has choreographed the number for her and set aside time in her schedule to rehearse with Sylvia deserves the respect of Sylvia doing her part. Which was also why I said something on Saturday.

Having said that, I don't want to put too much pressure on her. I don't want her to feel at all like we'll be disappointed in her if she doesn't get in. The odds are basically 4 to 1. But that's all the more reason why she needs to do everything she can to do her best. Getting in isn't just about talent level, but about commitment. If she can show them that she's practiced tirelessly, that she's put her heart and soul into it, her chances of getting in increase greatly. And I do know that she wants it, and that it's also partly my responsibility to help her get what she wants.

This is the back and forth I've been going through for the past week. And I don't expect it to end anytime soon. I don't think there's a definitive answer here, but (big surprise) a balancing act. I just need to stay in tune with her enough to gauge what she needs in the moment. Yeah, that's all!


Kori said...

well, you know how I feel about personal respinsbility and natural consequences-but yeah, it IS a balancing act, partly because (for me anyway) I want my kids SO badly to do better than I did that I tend to want to MAKE them do x, y, or z-and it doesn't work. I dont know....I love you.

April said...

Kori - I do the same thing. I want so much for them to have a full life, and things like where they go to school could be huge factors in which direction their lives go.

Erica said...

Clearly you haven't taken any tips from Amy Chua....
otherwise you'd be having her practice her dance routine incessantly - no bathroom! no dinner!

Seriously though, this is tough. I can that I will face these issues as Anna gets older. Thanks for putting it out there.

Danielle said...

I struggle with this already and Bryce is only 3. I love reading it to know that I am not alone and it is probably much worse the older they get. Its a hard line I think. You are doing great though I think.