I knew from the very moment my eldest child was born that I wanted her to have the opportunity to access all the things I was never able to. I think we all do that, to an extent. You can see that if you look back across the generations. This is how we grow and develop. Sometimes, in an attempt to rectify the perceived failings throughout our own childhoods, the pendulum swings too far the other way. We must be mindful of this as parents.
Take my own childhood, for example. My mother did not have the opportunity to learn to dance, so she made sure that I had dance lessons paid for privately. I didn’t particularly enjoy dancing, but I went along to the classes all the same and became a reasonable dancer. There was so much focus on dance (competitions, festivals, exams…), that I wasn’t able to take the 11+ entrance examination for my local grammar school. Instead, I headed for the local comprehensive school where I was unbelievably miserable for the 5 years I was there. Surrounded by disruptive, disengaged children and jaded teachers (who were more concerned with behaviour policing than teaching), I could not wait to leave school and my qualifications suffered. I am not saying this is true of all comprehensive schools. Certainly not! This was just my personal experience.
Needless to say, I haven’t handed on the baton of dance to my children. Dance represents everything I was robbed of, yet my mother felt she was giving me everything that she never had.
We need to be careful not to be too extreme with our children. I haven’t discouraged my children from dance, but I certainly haven’t rammed it down their throats. Neither of them shows any genuine interest. But dance isn’t the problem for me.
When I embarked on this journey, I knew that I could easily fall foul at the first hurdle. With my childhood forming an influential backdrop, my pendulum could easily swing into the dreaded “pushy mother” territory. We have all seen them and they are certainly not just limited to mothers who are desperate to push their children into the local grammar school. They exist in virtually every walk of life: sports, dance, drama, singing… Living through their children rather than providing opportunities for them. I needed to be careful with that. My oft repeated mantra in those early days (and still now) was “do.not.let.the.pendulum.swing.too.far.the.other.way”.