Wonder implies the desire to learn (Aristotle)
My husband loves all things hockey so it was natural when we had children that he wanted to share his passions with them. At age 4 my daughter dressed in her pink Canucks hockey jersey happily accompanied him to a hockey game. He would tell me she seemed to enjoy the game and she confirmed this highlighting that Daddy had bought her a chocolate ice-cream bar. So when the time came for ice skating lessons he took charge, lined up to get her a space in those coveted classes, and even came home from work to take her. Alas, she was more interested in sitting on the ice, playing with the snow and watching others skate as she drank hot chocolate. The lessons were short lived and I didn’t dare tell him that my friend’s children LOVED their ice skating classes. What is a Dad to do?
I don’t think these types of situations are uncommon in families; it is natural to want to share one’s interests with our children. Some children aren’t interested though – does it mean they never will be? Can a parent encourage or move a child in this direction? Understanding the difference between form and spirit is critical. Does a child want to learn to ice skate? Play a musical instrument? Is there a bias in the child to try these new things? If not, then we put the form before the spirit, the learning before the desire. Why is this a problem? Because the desire for the learning must be stronger in a child than in the parent otherwise the motivation needed to learn will be diminished if not absent.
So if you want your child to play music or even be toilet trained then you have to ask yourself whether or not they want to. If they don’t then working with exposing them but not pushing, setting the stage but not rewarding accomplishment over initiative can help encourage their desire in coming to the forefront. Letting their desire take the lead in the learning process and giving originality room in the creative process does much to propel their learning forward. Spirit is what needs to come first. When a child has a desire to learn then it is easy to teach them the form, in fact, this will be effortless in comparison. When a child wants to read we can easily provide them with the ‘how-to’s.” As Gordon talks about in Power to Parent II, it is actually this bias ‘to do it myself’ that will carry them far in life.
All is not lost for my sports loving husband and thank goodness he is a patient man. He has endured many years of ballet classes, pink tutu’s and even tap dancing. At last with some gentle nudging my daughter has decided to hang up her dance slippers and has fallen in love with all things soccer. As we watch her on the field, skipping to get the ball from her opponent, we can’t help but take great delight in her desire. Red faced and beaming she runs to tell us on the sidelines that this is her favourite thing EVER. We share a smile and tell her we are happy she is having so much fun but as she runs off to play I see the twinkle in my husband’s eye. I sigh and remind myself that patience truly is a virtue, good things do come to those who wait, and that some things money really can’t buy.