Last week was parent observation at my daughter’s ballet studio. I had the opportunity to sit in and listen to a class. At the start of class each dancer had the chance to share something fun that happened to them during the week. When it came to my daughter (who is a natural-born over-sharer) she rambled on and on about a new dance studio she joined and how much she loves her new hip-hop class. Without missing a beat, a few of the teenage instructors said, “Real ballerinas don’t do hip-hop.” I was taken back by their response. Two long, quiet, awkward seconds resonated throughout the studio, before my six-year old simply responded, “Ahhh, I guess they do, because I’m a real ballerina, and I do hip-hop!” ((God love her!))
After leaving class, I began to think…was I doing my ballerina a disservice by enrolling her in a hip-hop dance class? Or, was I doing my future field hockey all-star a disservice by having her waste her time and energy in a silly ballet class?
In the age of, ” an adult driven, hyper competitive race to the top in both academics and athletics that serves the needs of the adults, but rarely the kids,” I am comfortable and confident that allowing my daughter to dabble in as many different activities as time allows, is an important and healthy concept. I will not be guilted into feeling badly that my six-year-old has not selected one primary sport or activity to “focus” on or “perfect.”
As much as I would love for my six-year-old to fall in love with my personal favorites, basketball and field hockey, it is not my place to force them upon her. Many successful coaches have noted that the best athletes are the those who have a true love and ownership of the sport, which is not something that can be taught, but instead is something that must be felt. Also, despite the recent parenting trend of “specializing” your child toward one specific sport, college recruiters have noted that they are increasingly drawn to multi-sport athletes.
In this adult driven mania that is extracurriculars, not only can parents “specialize” their child, they can pay for genetic testing to help determine the most efficient and effective areas in which to specialize ?!
I derive a great deal of happiness watching my, hip hop, ballerina, soccer playing, softball enthusiast, perfecting her cart-wheel in the outfield. I am committed to stepping back, taking a breath, and leaving the decision to my daughter; balance is more important than perfection.
Sources: New York Times, “Born to Run? Little Ones Get Tested for Sports Gene”
Steve Nash, Youth Basketball Blog, “The Road to Nowhere in Youth Sports”
Latest posts by vtnative (see all)
- A Letter to my Middle Daughter, who is Exactly Like her Father - May 1, 2017
- True Story…I am the Worst Ever! - April 3, 2017
- On Raising Strong Women - March 9, 2017