Guest Post by Chad West.
In the raising of our daughter, there is one debate my bride and I have consistently. It is, doubtless, one of the most crucial issues in all of parenting.
When she is old enough, will she like Star Wars?
My loving bride says no, but that’s because she doesn’t want me to show it to her. I, nerd that I am, say she can’t escape it. After all, 90% of Daddy’s T-shirts are Star Wars related. There will be questions.
OK, it’s a silly debate. But it sparks a more serious question in my mind, one that’s not as easy to answer.
How much are we, as parents, able to shape our child’s likes, and, more to the point, how much should we do so?
We’ve all seen the overbearing parents portrayed on TV, the ones who force their kids to do what they never did. The dad pushing his son into sports, the mom making her daughter go for head cheerleader even though the child (in either instance) usually wants to do something completely different.
Take, for example, the movie Dead Poet’s Society. One of the subplots involves Neil and his father. Dad wants – no, insists – that Neil will be a doctor. Neil, on the other hand, discovers theater. Tempers flare, fights are had, and… well, it’s not exactly a happy ending for Neil.
I don’t want to be that dad. None of us do (I hope).
I admit, I was fortunate. I think my parents did the right thing as I was growing up. They let me try out a bunch of different things, find what I gravitated toward, what I had an aptitude for, what I enjoyed, and encouraged me toward those things. For me, it was music and theater. My parents never forced me into anything. They let me like what I like. Turns out, I was naturally a nerd.
Ultimately, that’s what I want to do with Little Bit. Let her try out the world, see what fits her. Now, will I maybe nudge her slightly toward nerd culture? Yep. Absolutely. That’s why we have D&D ABC and 123 books and a Star Wars storybook. One of her favorite books right now is Night Night, Groot. That makes Daddy proud, and makes Mama roll her eyes at me.
That happens a lot.
She also does a lot of what Mama enjoys. Gardening, horses, rabbits, birds. For now, as much as a 21-month old little girl can, she enjoys both worlds.
I think, though, that as she grows older, her self-confidence will grow out of how comfortable she is being herself. The best thing I can do as her Daddy is to encourage that. I don’t need to understand why she likes something. I only need to know that it makes her smile, and that’s reason enough to let her do it.
Unless it’s dating. That’s not happening. Ever.
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Chad is a piano player, nerd, husband to an exasperated but patient wife, and, most importantly, stay at home dad to 1 (soon to be 2) children. You can see more of my nerdiness at www.dadlevelbest.wordpress.com