The Courage to Insist

I am feeling pleased about a parenting success that I want to share. Hand in Hand gave me the permission and courage to insist that my daughter take a class that she said she didn’t want to take. I believed that her discomfort about taking the class was related to some rejections that she had experienced and knew that she would not face the rejections in this class. I believed that it was something she would absolutely love and I didn’t want her to miss out because of a misplaced fear of rejection.

My 8-year-old daughter, “Little C,” loves to be the center of attention. She loves to perform. She is hugely expressive with both her face and her body. She is a girl who lights up. She has had a few opportunities to audition for commercials, and got a call-back for a really fun bubble gum television commercial, but she didn’t get the part. She also tried out for a play at the Children’s Theatre at the same time, and she didn’t get cast in the play. The rejection was too much for her, and she decided she hated theater (even though, after the Children’s Theatre audition, she told me that she felt something very special at the audition, and she loved it!).

I didn’t want her to turn her back on something that seems so perfect for her, so I thought we would look into signing her up for crew for the same play, which she was eager to do. In the process, we spoke with a woman at the theater who told us about some play acting classes that would be great for Little C. Little C reacted strongly negatively to the classes, but I signed her up anyway. (It’s hard for me to admit that, but I felt so strongly that her negativity was solely related to the rejections, which I knew she wouldn’t face in the class.)

So time came for the class to start this morning. I had completely forgotten about the class so it sprang up on us out of the blue. Little C was understandably upset with me for signing her up — I hadn’t meant for it to happen this way. She said she wasn’t going, and my first instinct was to be unhappy about her choice but to let it be her choice. Then it occurred to me that I could insist. I really don’t want her to miss out on theater just because of a couple of rejections. I feel so certain that tremendous joy awaits her in the theater, whether it is on the stage or behind the scenes. (She is also extremely visual and I could easily see her designing costumes or sets or directing or doing choreography.)

So I insisted in a loving but matter-of-fact way. She complained, and I listened with caring to her complaints. She didn’t get really upset. We arrived at the class, and she got a big, warm, happy greeting from her teacher, whom she adores! When class was over, she was glowing. She loved it! I’m glad I had the courage to insist that she go — even though I had mangled the process leading up to the class.

–A parent in the Bay Area

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