Thursday, 17 November 2011

Reflections on duty

Should you, as a parent, force your child to do something they don't want to do? H9 has a thing this weekend which basically involves singing a song in a group of children to entertain adults at a meeting.

She doesn't want to go.

"It will be boring," she says.

Well perhaps it will, perhaps it won't but should she give up her Sunday afternoon for it? We had a similar dilemma over Remembrance Sunday. We bought poppies and she went (in torrential rain) with the school to the village war memorial on the 11th and on Sunday could have gone to a service with her Brownies pack.

But she has a father who works every other weekend and does shifts during the week so they spend time together when they can. For the past two years their Sunday swimming treat has coincided with Remembrance Sunday and she's gone swimming instead. Should we feel guilty?

I try not to. Perhaps life sometimes is set up for those who work nine to five on weekdays and have every weekend free. Perhaps it's set up for people who don't have a longish commute and who don't work night shifts which mean that for half of each month they don't get to say goodnight to their children.

Sometimes we have to do what is best for us so I don't plan to force H9 to go and sing on Sunday if she doesn't want to. Then I'm going to do my very best not to feel guilty about it.


  1. Our children come into this world through us, not for us.

  2. I think it depends on the circumstances around why she has been asked. Is it something she has been practicing or been part of?
    If so, then perhaps the decision not to participate should have been made earlier. I help with a children's group and this happens. No big deal unless she is letting others down.
    I'm sure the group will be fine. I think children do need to understand if they are a part of a group then obligation is sometimes required.
    Having said all this I don't think children should be forced to perform.

  3. Some people live their lives through their children. I've seen the failed athletes, footballers, performers etc and their miserable children who eventually despise their parents for all the pushing. I've also noticed the rebellion of people who could've been great at what they do and no longer participate, but reject it because of the remembered lack of what should have been fun and enjoyment, but turned out to be a chore, carried out by control freaks with issues. Sad.

  4. Nah don't feel guilty. Family is important.

  5. Learning to cope with being bored, now that is a very useful skill, especially in preparation for life/work/relationships. I have supervised many young graduates who have had great difficulty with simple tasks because they found them 'boring'. Not clever, especially in today's jobs market!
    But she is still very young. I agree with chrisartist, if this is a team thing, she should be there, or decide earlier. Does she have access to her father's rota? Could she commit to a few things in return for being let off others?

  6. UPDATE: I checked with H9 and apparently she has already arranged not to go this year so it's not a case of letting anyone down at the last minute. She's already rehearsing for two other things so (sensibly) asked the group leader if it was okay to drop this one.

  7. That sounds very mature - so you must be doing something right!!

  8. Sounds like she knows her own mind Mags - follow your instincts. Being bound to duty can have a negative effect too x

  9. I think h9 made the right decision.
    Learning to say No is very important when stretched.
    Something we could all do more of I suspect.
    Realistic expectations are required.
    Some children are learning songs, plays, dance routines at this time of year and it can be exhausting.
    I hope you all have a nice relaxing weekend.

  10. An interesting range of very perceptive comments, and then H9 sorts it out for herself!

  11. Our family time is especially precious, both parents work and we don't get any holidays (the drawbacks of working for ourselves). If G10 though said she didn't want to go ONLY because 'It will be boring' I'm afraid I would make her go (and I'm sincerely not living my life through my child doing this). I'm doing it to prepare her for life... If only I didn't have to do things because they are boring it'd be wild! This didn’t really seem to be the reason though for H9 in the end did it? When you have so much on at the moment then sometimes indeed you have to make a choice about what you can and cannot commit to. H9’s made her own very grown up decision - she’s such a well-rounded, genuine, friendly child. Proof enough that you are a great Mum. Don’t feel guilty, us Mums carry enough of that burden! All you can ever do is your best - and you always do that.


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