Living Vicariously Through Children

?? - posted on 04/12/2010 ( 11 moms have responded )




Pageants, sports, musical instruments, ballet, homecoming queen/king, class president, student body president, cheerleading... the list goes on and on of feats we all 'wish' we could have achieved when we were young, flexible and capable. All things that we would love to see our children achieve if they wanted to pursue those activities...

When does wanting our children to succeed at the activities they are involved in pass into the realm of living vicariously through them? Do you think that the line of pushing them too much is actually a lot easier to cross than we may be aware of? Where is the line between support, dedication, sticking through the hard to recieve the rewards AND pushing, obsession, ruining the experience to end up in disappointment?


Johnny - posted on 04/13/2010




I don't agree with living ones life vicariously through your children, but I do have an acquaintance for whom it worked out very well. I have known her since we were 4 and we are still in touch to this day. She was born to unmarried but very wealthy parents and her father wanted nothing to do with a child. He agreed to provide full financial support, which allowed her mother to stay home and not work, and kept them living a very good life. From a very young age, her mother was completely obsessed with providing her daughter the perfect life, making sure that she was strong, self-confident and otherwise pretty much completely perfect. Her mother hired tutors for school, sent her to an expensive private school, and even hired a personal chef to provide them with food as they raced from extra-curricular activity to extra-curricular activity. Her mom pushed hard in all areas, arts, sports, academics, social, and was determined that she perfect them all. She is the only person I know who was in a sorority in university (it's rare in Canada).

Surprisingly, she ended up quite well-adjusted. She is a corporate lawyer now, with specialty in environmental litigation because she also has a master's in Chemistry. She is an accomplished Salsa dancer, and competes recreationally. She sings in a church choir that is so well regarded that it records albums you can buy on I-Tunes and at HMV. She plays soccer and coaches a little girls team. She is also married to a very good looking real estate attorney. They are currently expecting their first child. And she seems to have plenty of good friends. I have no idea how she fits it all in, but her mother trained her from a young age to handle a highly scheduled and super-packed lifestyle. She appears happy, although who knows if she's even got time to think about it (which may, perhaps, be the key to happiness).

Would I do this with my child? Ah, no way. But I guess it can be a good thing for some. I want my daughter to be able to achieve for herself, not because I want something for her. The one thing I do want more than anything for her is a strong sense of self-esteem (not narcissism). And I think that can only be achieved through allowing her to find out what she enjoys and is good at, and allowing her to excel at her own pace.

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Amie - posted on 04/13/2010




I think it crosses the threshold when you sign them up even when you know they have no desire to do the activity. That's not about their happiness, it's about yours.

As a few know my kids do quite a bit. Our oldest has the biggest schedule but she's also old enough to carry the load. She's in cadets, band, range and cooking classes. Our son is in Beaver Scouts. Both were in tae kwon do but didn't like it so we're looking for another marital art for them to try. The oldest 3 of them will have swimming lessons this summer, it's easiest then to schedule them all with nothing else going on. LOL! Our baby, well we have a couple years yet. Our toddler, other than swimming we're not pushing her for anything as of yet. Kindergarten is kind of our age range for starting them though.

Our oldest used to take dance classes but she grew bored of it after 3 years. So she no longer goes. Our oldest two both like baseball too. They haven't shown a whole lot of interest in different sports but it will come with age I'm sure. I was about my daughter's age when I started playing a lot of sports.

I'll never make them do something they don't want to do. I'll never sign them up for something unless they know how much they have to commit to it. So far we have a good track record. They enjoy what they do and I take pride in that fact. They are excelling at a fast pace. Our son has earned 3 badges (most beavers don't even do badges at this age) and our daughter is working on her 2nd promotion in cadets (1st year in them). She writes her exam for it in the next couple of weeks. If they stop enjoying them though we will let them pick something else.

Lindsay - posted on 04/13/2010




For those of you that know me well, you've already figured out that I'm a sports nut. I absolutely love sports and most everything that comes along with them. There are so many valuable lessons to be learned and I really think that they can be beneficial to kids for the rest of their life, especially team sports. They learn how to play as a team, be a good teammate, work hard, focus on a goal, learn the satisifaction of winning, and learn how to lose gracefully and pick yourself back up. I could go on and on, trust me.

My kids have reacched the age to start and play sports. I will sign them up for one season if when I ask them they have a desire to try it. And usually they do. I want them to try many different activities and then they can make the decision of which ones they desire to continue and which ones to stop. I won't make them participate in something they don't want to but they will finish the season/session that they are in. We just won't sign up the next time. My hope are that they will find at least one thing they really enjoy and give it their best. And despite my passion for sports, if in time that is not their desire, I will support them in whatever they do.

I think I do live through my kids. I am happy when they are happy and I feel their pain and disappointment if/when they fail at something. I will always push my kids to do their best in anything they do. I want them to develop the integrity and respect themselves enough to always give their all. I am and will always be their biggest cheerleader! =)

Carolee - posted on 04/13/2010




I'm actually pretty odd as a person, and therefore, pretty lucky as a parent.

I've always set really achieveable goals for myself in life, though. I've done almost everything I've ever wanted to do... except work as a toy tester/developer, or be a plus-size model (which I know I'm too shy to do). I was told that I would be dead before I turned 18 (predicted suicide) by more than one phychiatrist, so I learned to set goals that I could ACTUALLY achieve.

I want my kids to reach a little higher than I did with my goals, but as long as they are happy with what they do, I'm thrilled for them! If they show an interest in something, I'll make sure they get to experience it (as long as it's safe). If they don't want to do something anymore, I won't force them to do it (unless I've paid for it... then they have to wait until the "paid for" time is over... and I'd want an explination of why they don't want to do it anymore... if it's a really stupid reason, like they lost a game or something, I'd try to get them to try it again).

ME - posted on 04/13/2010




I'm putting Miles in tumbling this summer, and next year I hope to put him in a martial arts class. If he doesn't like either of them, that's fine, but I hope he will pick some activity to do that he is interested in. If he wants to take dance class or music lessons or play baseball or soccer, etc. I will be supportive of anything he chooses (age appropriate), but social activities are important for many reasons, and I will do my best to make sure that both my kids get involved in something. I don't think that's living vicariously...I think that's knowing what's good for my children, and making sure that they know it's good for them too...

LaCi - posted on 04/13/2010




I want my son to try a wide variety of things. I'll be putting him in tumbling classes soon, I want him to try gymnastics, dance, t ball and little league, football, soccer, so of and so forth when he's little. If he doesn't like something I won't make him continue, when he's in school he can choose what he wants to do but I will encourage him to have a couple of extracurriculars at all times, can be sports can be chess clubs or music, don't care what it is as long as it is something productive. I'm definitely not the type to say *you have to finish what you started* if you don't like it you don't like it. The important thing is that you tried it to figure out you didn't like it. I don't really have anything I'm obsessed with that I would feel the need to live vicariously through him, none of that really interests me. I would just like him to be healthy, social, and active, and have extracurriculars on his transcripts when he's older.

Sharon - posted on 04/12/2010




I try to make sure that doesn't happen here. I do want my kids to have the healthy wide life experience I did as a kid.

I do push them to try new things. Things I experienced as a kid and lot of things I did not.

If they don't want to do something, I don't make them.

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I pretty much agree with what Kayle said.

I would love it if my daughter wanted to take ballet like I did and actually do something with it, but if she hates ballet and wants to play softball instead then so what? As long as she is putting 100% into whatever SHE chooses to pursue and she's happy, then I'm happy.

Krista - posted on 04/12/2010




I will encourage my kids in their activities, and will also try to teach them to stick to something in order to give it a fair chance. But honestly, I think my problem with living vicariously won't be with activities -- it'll be with their life choices. I wish I'd traveled more. I wish I hadn't let my mother's guilt trips keep me from going further away to go to school. I can't really regret the way my life went, because it led me to my life now, which I love. But I will definitely strongly encourage my kids to see the world and enjoy their independence during that period of time when they have nobody to answer to but themselves.

Joanna - posted on 04/12/2010




Right now the only way I live vicariously through my daughter is that I'm always using her as an excuse to go to the zoo.... I love the zoo :)

But my parents really wanted me or my brother to play sports and we didn't and I know they were a little upset, but they never pushed. They were happy with whatever art classes or Scouts or anything that we did.

I'm going to put my girl in dance class, because I wish I would have did dance, but if she doesn't like it I wouldn't push her. But now that I think about it, even at 2, I think she'll want to be in soccer, and boy, my parents will be so happy! :D

Kayle - posted on 04/12/2010




I think you cross the line when you are well aware that your child does not like/is not interested in whichever activity and you are still pushing and forcing them to do it. Yes, we all want our kids to be involved in activities but let what activities they want to be in their choice.

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